German art consultant Helge Achenbach has been arrested after allegations of fraud. The 62-year-old is considered one of Germany’s most influential art consultants, entertaining long-term business relationships with some the country’s wealthiest collectors. According to the state attorney of the city of Essen, Achenbach has been accused of overpricing art and vintage cars he procured for investors. German newspapers Bild and Die Welt have reported that fraud allegations were made by the heirs of Berthold Albrecht, one of the founders of the German discount supermarket chain Aldi, who was one of Achenbach’s most important clients until his death in 2012.
Achenbach was one of the first art consultants to work with galleries, artists, and investors in Germany. After founding his company in the 1970s, he quickly established himself thanks to his excellent contacts within the Dusseldorf art scene. In 1987, he purchased 21 paintings by Gerhard Richter from the Gunther Ulbricht Collection, which he then sold on to two collectors. In 1991, German collector Friedrich Christian Flick purchased several works by photographers of the “Dusseldorf School” (Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Thomas Ruff) with Achenbach’s help. In 2011, Achenbach was involved in establishing a cooperation between German auto manufacturer Volkswagen and the New York Museum of Modern Art.
Achenbach was arrested after his return from a two-week stay at Campo Bahia, Brazil, where the German National Soccer team is currently residing during the world cup tournament, and where he coordinated a German-Brazilian art project with young artists from both countries. His wife Dorothee stated that the allegations brought against her husband were unjust and that Achenbach was “optimistic“ that the matter would be clarified shortly.
— Lisa Contag (@ARTINFOGermany)
(Photo: Detail of cover of Helge Achenbach’s book “Der Kunstanstifter. Vom Sammeln und Jagen”; Hatje Cantz)