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An employee of a museum in Munich, Germany, has admitted to replacing several paintings from storage with fakes and selling the originals at auction, DPA reported.
For his act, he received a suspended sentence of one year and nine months from the District Court in Munich. The sentence imposed is final.
The accused worked from May 2016 to April 2018 as a technical employee at the museum and had access to the storage room where the paintings were kept.
According to the court, he replaced the painting Das Marchen vom Froschkonig (“The Tale of the Frog King”) by Franz von Stuck with a forgery and offered the original at auction to an auction house in Munich, which sold it for 70,000 euros to a gallery in Switzerland.
After deducting the costs of the auction, the man had 49,127.40 euros left in cash.
The man, now 30, also stole Eduard von Grützner’s Die Weinprufung (“Wine Tasting”) and Franz von Defreger’s Zwei Madchen beim Holzsammeln im Gebirge (“Two Girls Gathering Wood in the Mountain”) from the museum’s vault .
The sale of the other two paintings brought him another 12,000 euros.
“The defendant used the money to pay off debts and finance a luxurious lifestyle,” the court said, noting that the man bought an apartment, expensive wristwatches and a Rolls-Royce, among other things.
In front of the court, he not only admitted his act, but also demonstrated sincere remorse, saying that he did it without thinking and that now he cannot find an explanation for his behavior.