The trial of German art dealer Helge Achenbach began last week 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, previously denied 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 dealings 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.
The German art adviser stands accused of defrauding the late billionaire and Aldi supermarket heir Berthold Albrecht on some 23 separate occasions resulting in estimated damages of €23 million or £18.2 million. Now, less than a week into the proceedings, things have taken an unexpected turn.
On Monday, in an emotional confession, Achenbach spoke to the court of his close friendship to the late billionaire. According to Handelsblatt he told the court that it was “unforgivable” that “the trust placed in me by Berthold Albrecht was not justified.”
Achenbach went on to admit marking up purchase invoices to minimise the risk associated with the contractual buy-back clause, which his five percent commission reportedly did not cover.
The German art dealer wished to stress, however, that regardless of the markups, Albrecht did not make a loss, and further denied forging invoices for classic cars that Albrecht bought through him, claiming a bonus had been agreed to between them, on top of the three percent commission stated in their contract.
Achenbach, fighting back tears, apologised to his family “who has suffered a lot in the last months.” The defence has built their case around the fact that the artworks that the dealer bought for Albrecht had realised a substantial increase in value; further emphasising that the contractual agreement between Achenbach and Albrecht included a buy-back clause. The trial has been adjourned until Wednesday.