History knows the tale of a few brilliant art forgers but Wolfgang Beltracchi is in a league of his own. He does not copy valuable paintings but instead goes inside the dead artist’s mind: for 40 years he painted paintings, imitating the style of the artists of the 20th century, and sold them as lost masterpieces. Museums and art collectors were happy to received the paintings – and paid tens of millions for them. Beltracchi’s paintings have been hanging on the walls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as well as on the wall of Steve Martin who is known for his collection of modern art. Beltracchi’s imprint is still visible in museums around the world: he claims to have made around 300 drawings and paintings of which only a few have been discovered.
Beltracchi – The Art of Forgery is also a story about the overflowing art market. The auction record prices need to be broken every year and the market craves for new pieces to sell, new sensations. In the beginning of his career, Beltracchi pimped flea market art into something more interesting but over the decades and with increased cash flow his tinkering turned serious. After all, a forgery is more convincing when it is sold for millions instead of thousands.
Painting a forgery is much more than just recreating a masterpiece: Beltracchi introduces the tricks he uses to make the paintings look as authentic as possible. The most important thing is, however, a believable story which will finally help sell the piece. The documentary introduces the laid-back con artist who is now in open imprisonment and does not take himself too seriously: “I make paintings because it’s fun”.
Text: Turkka Ylinen / Translation: Anniina Hautakoski
- Name in Original Language: Beltracchi - Die Kunst der Fälschung
- Director: Arne Birkenstock
- Country: Germany
- Year: 2014
- Length: 102 min
- Age limit: S
- Format: DCP
- Cinematography: Marcus Winterbauer
- Editing: Katja Dringenberg
- Audio: Patrick Veigel, Ludwig Bestehorn
- Production: Arne Birkenstock, Helmut G. Weber, Thomas Springer / Fruitmarket Kultur und Medien
- Maxim 2: Tue 27.1. at 16:45
- Savoy: Wed 28.1. at 21:00