ICYMI: German Museum Worker Swaps Paintings With Fakes To Fund Lavish Lifestyle

In case you missed it: A German museum worker was convicted of stealing and selling paintings from Munich’s Deutsches Museum, turning the originals into forgeries.

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A German museum worker was convicted of stealing paintings from his employers and turning them into forgeries to sell authentic paintings to fund his „luxurious lifestyle,” according to a district court in Munich.

The 30-year-old man, who cannot be named under German privacy law, was also convicted of stealing three other works of art from Munich’s Deutsches Museum, where he worked as a technical employee, according to a statement released by the court on September 25.

He sold the originals through the museum’s own auction house, which paid for an apartment, a Rolls-Royce and expensive watches.

During the two years the man worked at the Deutsches Museum from 2016 to 2018, he first stole Franz von Stuck’s 1891 „The Fairy Tale of the Frog King,” which he sold for €70,000. He told the auction house that the painting belonged to his grandparents.

Eduard von Kreutzner’s „Tasting the Wine” and Franz von Defrecker’s „Two Women Gathering Wood in the Mountains;” He also stole and sold; He failed to sell the final painting he stole, DeFrecker’s “Tirndle”.

The Deutsches Museum is not an art museum, which is the main reason why the paintings went so long without being missed.

Although the Munich Museum is a science and technology institution, its archives contain a large collection of donated art, making it particularly vulnerable to this type of theft.

The „clumsy” forgeries were finally discovered by an internal appraiser who was doing research and noticed that the paintings he saw in storage didn’t match the images of the works in the museum catalog.

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A Munich court gave the man a 21-month suspended sentence, but his remorse — his clean criminal record — helped him escape prison. He also ordered the museum to pay more than €60,000 in restitution for the stolen paintings.

„He said he acted without thinking,” the court report said. „He cannot explain his behavior today.”

Additional resources • ArtNet, ArtForum

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