The 30-year-old individual, whose identity remains undisclosed because of Germany’s stringent privacy laws, took on a daring stunt involving the substitution of a valuable artwork with a fake, subsequently selling the authentic piece to acquire luxury goods.
It seems he had a taste for the finer things in life, including a Rolls-Royce and wristwatches. He was not content with his day job at the Deutsches Museum. Nope, he needed to level up his lifestyle, pronto!
To add a layer of intrigue to his scheme, the perpetrator wove a fabricated narrative when dealing with a Munich auction house.
He said the painting had been in his family for generations.
Surprisingly, people believed the fake story, and the painting was eventually sold to a Swiss gallery for around €70 000 (R1.4 million).
After the auction fees were paid, he ended up with nearly €50 000 cash.
You might think that such a grand heist would land this artful adventurer behind bars for years but he managed to avoid the slammer and instead, received a 21-month suspended sentence.
Oh, and he's also been ordered to pay back the museum more than €60 600.
He also made an attempt to auction another stolen artwork, “Dirndl” by Franz von Defregger, at a distinct auction house in Munich. Unfortunately for him, he could not find a buyer.
In a statement conveyed via email to “CNN”, the auction house responsible for the successful sales of the other three artworks, Ketterer Kunst, said it was unable to identify the pieces as stolen property.
The court took pity on the swindler, citing his “genuine remorse“ and his claim that he had ”acted without thinking“.
Well, I guess when you’re sipping champagne in your new Rolls-Royce, the past does tend to become a blur.
There you have it, a tale of art, deception and a Rolls-Royce that may not have been worth the price of admission. One thing’s for sure, Germany’s art scene just got a whole lot more interesting.