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Beltracchi – Die Kunst der Fälschung

Wolfgang Beltracchi, a relaxed and nice guy and eloquent talker who made millions producing and selling fake classic modern art before he was caught. In this amusing portrait he talks about the art world and his scams.


In Orson Welles’ F FOR FAKE, Clifford Irving, best known for his 1970s fake autobiography of Howard Hughes, expresses a fundamental aesthetic truth: “the important distinction when talking about the quality of a painting is not what is original and what is forgery. The question is whether or not it is a good or a bad forgery.” The art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi is so good at what he did that according to police estimates he cashed in between 20 and 50 million with his sales of 20th century masters. Before the fake was exposed, Beltracchi’s forgery of Campendonck’s “Red Picture with Horses” was considered one of the finest Cubist pieces and a classic modernist work. Beltracchi himself is convinced that he in fact improved the work of many painters. He is a nice, relaxed, funny cross between a rocker and an old hippie who likes to wear colourful shirts and is a great storyteller.
Accordingly, the film BELTRACCHI – THE ART OF FORGERY is quietly comical. With the money he made tricking the art world, Beltracchi built two stunning homes, one in Cologne, and one on the Cote d´Azur, with an outdoor pool on the coast and an indoor pool in Cologne. He only continued with his forgery work until he was caught because he so badly wanted a small palace in Venice. When Beltracchi was asked into which paintings he poured his sweat, blood, and tears, he answered pragmatically with the answer none of them – if you’ve been around in the business as long I have, he says, one acquires a certain distance. At that moment he puts the finishing touches on a Max Ernst fake. Too bad that he didn’t get 5 million more for it, says Beltracchi.


Translation: Carla McDougall


D 2013, 102 min
Genre: Documentary
Director: Arne Birkenstock
Author: Arne Birkenstock
Distributor: Senator Film
Release: 06.03.2014




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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