Status: 25/09/2023, 17:54 p.m.
By: Katja Kraft
In the Deutsches Museum there was an art theft © archive
At the Deutsches Museum in Munich, an employee stole art: The 30-year-old replaced several paintings in the depot and auctioned off the originals. For the money ripped off, he bought, among other things, a Rolls Royce - and has now been convicted.
Munich - It is one of the largest science and technology museums in the world: The Deutsches Museum in Munich attracts more than one million visitors every year. But a criminal comes from within his own ranks...
As the Munich district court announced, an employee of the museum has replaced several paintings from a depot with a forgery and had the originals auctioned. For this, he was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison on probation. The criminal trial had already taken place on 11 September.
In it, the 30-year-old defendant made a confession. From May 2016 to April 2018, he was employed as a technical assistant in the collection administration of the Deutsches Museum, where he had access to the warehouse where paintings were kept.
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Trial in Munich: Employees of the Deutsches Museum stole rare paintings
According to the court, he used this access to, among other things, exchange the painting Once Upon a Time by Franz von Stuck for a forgery. The employee offered the original for auction in a Munich auction house. According to research by tz, this is the auction house Ketterer Kunst. The famous artist's work, which he had made in 1891, was auctioned off to a Swiss gallery for 70,000 euros. Fat booty for the accused: As Ketterer confirms, he received 49,127.40 euros after deduction of the auction costs.
In addition, according to the court, the 30-year-old stole the paintings The Wine Examination by Eduard von Grützner (actual title probably different from the court ruling At the Wine Tasting) and Two Girls Collecting Wood in the Mountains by Franz von Defregger. He also had one of the paintings auctioned off, the other he sold directly to a Munich auction house, which earned him another 12,000 euros. "The defendant used the money to pay off debts and finance a luxurious lifestyle," the court said. "Among other things, he bought a new apartment, expensive wristwatches and a Rolls Royce." Which is surprising in view of the total amount of 60 617.90 euros...
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Deutsches Museum: Fraudster bought a Rolls Royce with the money from the auctions
In the trial before the district court, the museum employee had shown "honest remorse and insight". "He stated that he had acted without thinking. He could no longer explain his behavior today," says court spokesman Martin Swoboda. In addition to the prison sentence, the court also ordered the confiscation of all the money that the man had earned with his illegal activities. The verdict is already final.
The question remains open as to how such an art theft is actually possible. And why no one at the auction houses was suspicious. "We have been in contact with the LKA for some time," says a spokeswoman for Ketterer Kunst in response to a tz request. And emphasizes: "Every work that is offered to us for auction is comprehensively checked by our experts. Also, the painting in question: Once Upon a Time." Provenance research in particular is a top priority at Ketterer. This means that the respective changes of ownership are tracked - which is particularly important in view of many cases of looted art at the time of nationalism. "Here we were simply dealing with a very cunning fraudster."
You can find even more up-to-date news from Munich and the region on tz.de/muenchen.