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photo © 2012 Fruitmarket/Wolfgang Ennenbach

For nearly 40 years, Wolfgang Beltracchi fooled the international art world and was responsible for the biggest art forgery scandal of the postwar era. An expert in art history, theory and painting techniques, he tracked down the gaps in the oeuvres of great artists – Max Ernst, Fernand Léger, Heinrich Campendonk, André Derain and Max Pechstein, above all – and filled them with his own works. He and his wife Helene would then introduce them to the art world as originals. What makes these forgeries truly one-of-a-kind is that they are never mere copies of once-existing paintings, but products of Beltracchi’s imagination, works “in the style of” famous early 20th-century artists. With his forgeries, he fooled renowned experts, curators and art dealers. The auctioneers Sotheby’s and Christie’s were hoodwinked, just like Hollywood star Steve Martin and other collectors throughout the world. It was ultimately Beltracchi’s own success that brought him down. Passed off as an original Heinrich Campendonk and regarded by specialists as a “key work of modernism,” Beltracchi’s “Red Painting with Horses, 1914” was sold at an auction for a record 2.8 million euros. But it was here that the master forger made the mistake that was to expose him...

In BELTRACCHI – THE ART OF FORGERY, Wolfgang and his wife Helene Beltracchi chat openly – and with great wit and charm – about their quixotic adventures in an overheated art world ruled by blind greed, and in which apparently no one has an answer to the question as to what is an original, and what is a forgery... A mesmerizing, thought-provoking yet surprisingly amusing documentary.
Genre Art, Biopic
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2013
Director Arne Birkenstock
Screenplay Arne Birkenstock
Cinematography Marcus Winterbauer
Cast Wolfgang Beltracchi, Helene Beltracchi
Producers Arne Birkenstock, Helmut G. Weber, Thomas Springer
Co-Producers Helge Sasse, Thomas Weymar
Production Company Fruitmarket Arts & Media/Cologne, in co-production with Senator Entertainment/Berlin, TELEPOOL/Munich
Runtime 102 min
Format DCP, color, 1:1.85
 German, French, English
Subtitled Version English
Festivals Montreal World Film Festival 2014, Warsaw 2014, Stockholm 2014, Sao Paulo 2014, Reel Artists Film Festival Toronto 2015, BAFICI 2015
Awards German Film Award 2014 (Best Documentary)
With backing from Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, German Federal Film Fund / DFFF Deutscher Filmförderfonds, BKM
German Distributor Senator Film Verleih/Berlin

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