Berlin art dealer suspected of cheating on clients has died

Berlin-based art dealer Michael Schultz, who was arrested in 2019 on suspicion of defrauding millions of euros from customers, has died aged 70, according to German media.

Schultz died on December 28 from a brief and severe illness, according to the Berlin press release. Daily Mirror newspaper. His gallery was declared insolvent in 2019. Prior to his financial decline and the police investigation, he was a prominent contemporary art dealer who sold works by Gerhard Richter, AR Penck and Georg Baselitz from his premises in the upper Charlottenburg district of Berlin.

His clients included the rich and famous, such as designer Wolfgang Joop and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Before starting his own gallery in 1986, Schultz was editor-in-chief of art magazine and as manager of Michael Wewerka Galerie, the Daily Mirror noted.

Police raided five addresses in Berlin and two in Brandenburg in 2019 as part of their investigation, and said the merchant was arrested “on suspicion of defrauding several people in connection with the sale. valuable works of art and caused damage worth millions of euros. . “

The prosecutor was preparing a criminal case against Schultz last year, according to René Allonge, chief inspector of the Berlin police.

“The investigations into the suspect have turned out to be very complex,” Allonge said. “This resulted in a number of processes related to fraud, embezzlement, document forgery and delays in filing an insolvency claim. We estimate the damage in the millions. Now that the suspect is deceased, the investigations are ending and no criminal forensic assessment can take place. “

In a 2020 interview with Focus magazine, real estate developer and collector Dirk Gädeke said that Schultz, whom he once considered a friend, had sold him counterfeits of an abstract work by Richter and a Marilyn Monroe red by Andy Warhol as originals, as well as two forged works by Sigmar Polke. He said the dealer owed him around 3.4 million euros in loans and other damages, in addition to more than 8 million euros in damages for forgery.

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