Art law News Germany

Fraud investigation into German art adviser widens

The heirs of Aldi-supermarket heir and art collector Berthold Albrecht accuse Helge Achenbach of falsifying invoices

Helge Achenbach. Photo: Hartmut Bühler1

Further details have emerged in the case against Helge Achenbach, the leading German art adviser who was arrested on 10 June on suspicion of fraud. According to the German business newspaper Handelsblatt, which cites the 24-page criminal complaint, Achenbach is accused of allegedly defrauding the late Aldi-supermarket heir and art collector Berthold Albrecht of €18m. There is also “early suspicion” that Achenbach allegedly defrauded another client, says Anette Milk, the senior public prosecutor in Essen.

A valuation of the Albrecht’s estate following his death two years ago raised concerns, and the collector’s heirs filed a complaint with the state prosecutor’s office in Essen, in April. The heirs claim that Achenbach falsified invoices to inflate the purchase prices for works of art and vintage cars he bought for Albrecht. The mark ups raised the level of Achenbach’s commission from Albrecht, they say.

Achenbach was arrested shortly after returning from Brazil where he organised an art event at the World Cup base of the German national team. He is thought to have introduced art consulting to Germany in the 1970s and advises major corporations, insurance companies and banks. Achenbach’s wife Dorothee said in a statement that the allegations were “personally motivated”. The lawyer of Albrecht's heirs, Andreas Urban, declined to comment.

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