Wolfgang Beltracchi films

2014 – Present

"Beltracchi – Die Kunst der Fälschung"
 English title "Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery"

"Beltracchi – Die Kunst der Fälschung" is a German documentary film produced in 2014 by the Cologne director Arne Birkenstock

Duration: 1h 33m 
Cinematography:  Marcus Winterbauer
Produced by: Fruitmarket Kultur und Medien and Tradewind Pictures in collaboration with Global Screen and Senator Entertainment.

Premiered on March 6, 2014
at the 2014 World Film Festival in Montréal.

The German Film Academy awarded "Beltracchi – Die Kunst der Fälschung" the German Film Prize for "Best Documentary" on May 9, 2014. The Association of German Film Critics nominated the film in 2015 as one of five films in the category of "Best Documentary" for the Prize of German Film Criticism.

The film critic, Magali-Ann Thomas wrote for Bayerischer Rundfunk:
"The film is fun because it harbors an anarchistic core. Because it tells the stories of people who have found their own loopholes to relieve individuals of millions but at the same time demonstrate that art is a relative term. (...) Director Arne Birkenstock has designed his film like a pop artwork: it's colorful, it's lively, and always funny. (...) An amusing documentary about the art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi and his wife. A bit of a portrait, a bit of a guide to art forgery, and above all, a very human look at the overheated art market."

Watch on Apple TV

"Der Meisterfälscher"

Wolfgang Beltracchi paints Christoph Waltz for the TV series "Der Meisterfaelscher"

Der Meisterfälscher
Wolfgang Beltracchi Portraits

In this series (2014-2016), convicted art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi portrays celebrities in the styles of various artists. Virtuoso, profound, and highly entertaining.

Produced by 3SAT and ZDF
Episodes: 15
Seasons: 3

Season 1 | Der Meisterfälscher

In 2014, the five-part documentary series "Der Meisterfälscher" (The Master Forger), produced by 3sat, was created. Each episode portrayed a person by Wolfgang Beltracchi in the style of different artists: Harald Schmidt in the style of Otto Dix, Daniel Kehlmann in the style of Giorgio de Chirico, Gloria von Thurn und Taxis in the style of Lucas Cranach the Elder, art student and daughter Franziska Beltracchi in the style of Sandro Botticelli, and Christoph Waltz in the style of Max Beckmann. The series was nominated for the Grimme Prize in January 2015 and won the Eurovision Creative Forum of the EBU as the best European format in September 2015.

Season 2 | Der Meisterfälscher kehrt zurück

In 2015, the second season of "Der Meisterfälscher" titled "Der Meisterfälscher kehrt zurück" (The Master Forger Returns) was produced by 3sat. The five episodes portrayed two individuals once and four times one person by Wolfgang Beltracchi: Niccel and Emil Steinberger in the style of Joaquín Sorolla, Katarina Witt in the style of Tamara de Lempicka, Hape Kerkeling in the style of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Annette Dasch in the style of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Otto Waalkes in the style of Anthonis van Dyck.

Season 3 | Der Meisterfälscher geht in die dritte Runde

In 2016, the third season of the documentary series aired on 3sat under the title "Der Meisterfälscher geht in die dritte Runde" (The Master Forger Goes Into the Third Round). The guests in this round were the host Barbara Schöneberger, painted in the style of Gustav Klimt, mountaineer Reinhold Messner in the style of Ferdinand Hodler, football player Mario Gómez in the style of Vincent van Gogh, actress Marie Bäumer in the style of Pablo Picasso, and author and host Ina Müller in the style of Henri Matisse.

Interview: "Best art forger in history?"

CBS News | 60 MINUTES with Bob Simon
Best art forger in history?

Wolfgang Beltracchi fooled the experts for decades in an art scam that netted him and his partners millions of dollars. Many art experts acknowledge he is the most successful art forger of our time — perhaps of all time.

Aired on Feb. 23, 2014

Wolfgang Beltracchi, schooled and talented, painted works supposedly by artists like Max Ernst, Raoul Dufy and Fernand Leger. But he didn't copy the artists' known works; he painted originals -- what he thought they might have painted if inclined. Thus, Wolfgang Beltracchi created new, previously undiscovered works by old artists, aping the strokes of the artists so perfectly no one could tell they were fakes. Beltracchi also forged works that had once existed but had disappeared for years. He fooled even the best experts by carefully using the canvasses and paint available in the period and creating authentic-looking, aged dealer labels. Beltracchi also had a good story: his wife's grandfather had hidden his art collection away before WWII, after the war, she inherited it and that is where all these unknown works by famous artists suddenly appeared from.

His fakes wound up in catalogs, in museums and on the walls of the rich; he eventually wound up in jail. But he might still be running his scam today if not for a certain pigment not available when some of these works would have been painted.  The white pigment was not listed on a label of a paint tube Beltracchi used and so, his jig was up. "Yes, I use the wrong titanium white," jokes Beltracchi, when asked if he thinks he did anything wrong.

Jamie Martin, a top forensic art analyst, says of Beltracchi: "His fakes are among the best fakes I've seen in my career. Very convincing.  Very well done." Martin says if forensic experts had examined the works more closely, perhaps he would have been unmasked earlier.

That doesn't make the galleries, auction houses and their experts, some of whom have been sued by those who bought Beltracchi fakes, feel any better.  "They all hate me, these experts now," says Beltracchi.  He says they were good, but no match for the master. "[The experts] were... really serious, their only problem was I was too good for them," he tells Simon.

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