The trial of German art dealer Helge Achenbach began on Tuesday after the 62-year-old was accused of defrauding one of the country’s richest families of tens of millions in the sales of paintings and vintage cars. Achenbach, who has been in pre-trial detention for the last six months, denies the accusations against him. If found guilty the art dealer could see himself behind bars for a maximum jail term of 10 years.
Achenbach, who operates as an art dealer and consultant has a number of his deals under the spotlight as contested; these included paintings by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein and Gerhard Richter, while the vintage car sales were of Ferraris, Bentleys and Jaguars Spiegel Online has reported.
Prosecutors are accusing the art dealer of more than 20 counts of fraud, with the addition of charges of forgery, and breach of trust. The trial is taking place the western city of Essen, where the statement including charges was read by the court.
The state charges that he defrauded the late Berthold Albrecht, heir to the Aldi Nord supermarket empire, of 22.5 million euros or £17.7 million in the sales of 14 artworks and nine cars, by deceiving his client about the original purchase prices. the dealer is also accused of having defrauded two other wealthy customers in art deals, the court stated.
Achenbach’s former business partner, identified by the court only as Stefan H. in keeping with German reporting rules for criminal defendants, is also appearing in the dock alongside the defendant.
In a separate civil case, before a court in the defendant’s western home city of Duesseldorf, the family of supermarket tycoon Albrecht, who died in 2012, is also suing the art dealer and consultant for approximately 20 million euros in damages. The Essen court has set another eight court hearings, until January 21.