Art dealer jailed for defrauding clients of millions

By Drum Digital
16 March 2015

German art dealer Helge Achenbach was sentenced Monday to six years in prison for defrauding his wealthy clients, including the heir to the Aldi supermarket fortune.

The district court in the western city of Essen found the 62-year-old, who was once Germany's most well-known art consultant, guilty on 18 counts of fraud.

He had earlier admitted to cheating Berthold Albrecht, son of the Aldi founder, and pharmaceutical entrepreneur Christian Boehringer.

Among Achenbach's crimes was charging markups on art sales that were concealed and contrary to contracts, Judge Johannes Hidding said in the court's ruling.

He and his fellow judges estimated that the overcharges on purchases of art and vintage cars amounted to nearly 20 million euros (21 million dollars) for Albrecht alone.

In January, a court in Dusseldorf awarded Aldi heirs 19.4 million euros in damages in a civil case over Achenbach's unlawful levels of commission.

Achenbach, who has been in custody since June, denied the fraud charges concerning the car sales, saying he had told his friend Albrecht about the additional charges. The judges gave no credence to those claims.

Albrecht's widow looked over the bills for the transactions after his 2012 death and found irregularities, prompting the start of the investigations.

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