Notorious art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi out of prison

After serving three years of a six year prison sentence the man who made millions out of forged paintings is now free…and still making money from art. 

The 63 year old was jailed after he was found guilty of forgery and corruption in relation to 14 works that sold for $45m (£28.6m). His wife was also sentenced for four years in prison for assisting him in selling them.

It has been estimated that Beltracchi has produced roughly 300 paintings over a period of 36 years, imitating the work of some of the world’s most famous painters such as Picasso, Gauguin and Monet, finding a gap in their oeuvre, and getting his wife to claim that she inherited them.  His work was even featured on the front cover of a Christie’s catalogue, and hung in some the most prestigious galleries across the world. (See Wolfgang Beltracchi says his work still hangs in museum).

In a recent interview with the BBC, where Beltracchi is seen painting in his Montpelier studio, he says: “The only thing that was wrong was the signature. I was in prison not for the painting, but for the signature.”

His deceit was eventually uncovered when experts uncovered traces of titanium white in a painting supposed to be a 1914 work by Heinrich Campendonk. It wouldn’t have been available at that time.

Beltracchi now paints under his own name, giving half the money to those that he conned.  The works are on view in exhibition called ‘Freedom‘ from May 8 at a gallery in Munich.

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