A former technical employee on the Deutsches Museum in Munich was sentenced to jail for stealing work from the depot and promoting them by way of an public sale home to purchase himself luxuries. In a single case, he changed a portray by Franz von Caught with a cast copy and auctioned off the unique.
A court docket in Munich sentenced the thief, who’s 30 and can’t be named underneath German privateness legal guidelines, to a 12 months and 9 months in jail and ordered him to pay damages of greater than €60,000 on 11 September. He was discovered responsible of stealing 4 work in complete, and promoting three of them by way of a Munich public sale home—underneath the pretence they belonged to his household—whereas he was working on the museum from 2016 to 2018.
“The accused shamelessly exploited his entry to the depots in his employer’s premises and bought useful cultural property to safe himself an unique lifestyle and to boast about it,” the court docket mentioned in an announcement. It added that he had acquired a brand new house, costly watches and a Rolls Royce.
However the Munich district court docket additionally mentioned the sentence was comparatively lenient as a result of the person had no prior prison document, had expressed remorse, and since his crimes have been a number of years in the past. “He mentioned he acted with out reflection,” the court docket mentioned. “He might now not clarify his behaviour to himself.”
The Deutsches Museum is among the greatest science and know-how museums on this planet. It has acquired its artwork assortment primarily via bequests from people and foundations and these are primarily stored within the depot, says Sabine Pelgjer, a spokeswoman for the museum.
The lack of the Caught portray, known as The Fairy Story of the Frog King, was found when a provenance researcher gained entry to it and seen that it was “fairly a careless copy,” regardless of being in the fitting body, Pelgjer says. An extra inspection of the depots revealed that three different work have been additionally lacking. “Solely the frames have been left,” she says.
The previous museum worker bought two of those: Eduard von Grützner’s The Winetasting, for which he received nearly €4,500, and Two Women Gathering Wooden within the Mountains by Franz von Defregger, which earned him €7,000. A 3rd work, Franz Defregger’s Dirndl, did not promote at one other Munich public sale home. The thief cashed in additional than €49,000 for the sale of the Caught portray, which was bought by a Swiss gallery.
“Entry to the depot may be very tightly regulated,” Pelgjer says. “Our employees are all very dependable, however there’s not a lot you are able to do if one worker harbours prison vitality. He had no earlier document and there was no method of figuring out he was able to this once we employed him.”