Wolfgang Beltracchi

Wolfgang Beltracchi

This is hysterical. Buddy here is an art forger, not just an art forger but one so very good his work fooled all the experts.

"The hardest hit by the rampant fraud may be Werner Spies, a renowned art historian and expert on Ernst's Surrealist works who was duped into confirming several forged paintings, including one which appeared in the artist's 2005 retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As the Beltracchis were arrested, Spies told Der Spiegel that "if the pieces are forgeries, they can only be described as the work of a brilliant forger." He is now embroiled in a French court case with a company called Monte Carlo Art S.A., which had bought a purported Ernst from Cazeau-Béraudière for € £1.1 million in 2004."

"Wolfgang Beltracchi is believed to have forged at least 49 works, some of which are still being tested. "Forty-seven were confirmed by leading experts," noted Hanstein."

He got a greatly reduced prison sentence because he was so gosh darn nice to everybody at the trial.

"At one point, Wolfgang Beltracchi suggested that his works were better than those of the painters he copied, since he had the benefit of hindsight on their entire œuvre. He recounted how his father, an art restorer, taught him to copy Rembrandt and other Old Masters. He revealed a life of pot smoking, Harley Davidson-riding, and LSD experimentation. Throughout the trial, the Beltracchis turned the courtroom into their pulpit, joking and seeming at ease, even tender with one another — building a certain sympathy among the trial's followers. In his final words to the court, Beltracchi declared himself thankful for the "fairness and good spirit" of the trial, and "that everyone smiled so often."

This must seem a little strange to space aliens who visit earth: "You mean if somebody displays unusual talent and vision by producing something whose crafting shows great skill you reward and honor this person - once - and if somebody else shows that exact same talent and skill you lock them up and castigate them? Oooooo-k..."

Da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, but could he have painted Nude Descending Staircase by Klee? Or done any of Warhol's stuff? You'd think somebody who can paint any of these, not just some would have greater value to society, not less.

rjs - oct/2011