For the verdict in a process, which is all about monkeys, dazzling figures and millions, the Duesseldorfer Court has chosen a small meeting room on the fifth floor. The announcement, which on Tuesday morning not even a lawyer, but only Judge Petra Gundlach has appeared, only takes a few minutes.
In civil case, the court had to decide who was the legitimate owner of 70 monkey sculptures made by Düsseldorf artist Jörg Immendorff. They came in 2015, eight years after the master's death, in a spectacular auction series by Kölnhuset Van Ham under the hammer. Even the experts were surprised at the revenue of about 1.6 million euros.
In this sum, the dispute had suggested: Who was she for? Swiss Gallery St. Gilles, supported by Immendorf's widow Oda Jaune? Or try your opponent, the insolvency administrator Marc D & # 39; Avoine? The court awarded the money to St. Gilles because the company was able to deliver contracts for 2003 and 2007. The insolvency administrator D & # 39; Avoine left the business.
How did this fight come? The key figure is Helge Achenbach. The art consultant was an important companion and friend of Jörg Immendorff. And he was his fundraiser: he was to announce the artist's work on the market so that Immendorff could finance his expensive lifestyle.
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Immendorff was in the early 2000s, not only bad in health, and his finances were not well-ordered. He suffered from the nervous disease, ALS, his medical care progressing large sums of money. Despite, or perhaps because of his gloomy diagnosis, Immendorff celebrated lavish parties, ordered cocaine – to satisfy his "greed for life" – and prostitutes, who earned him a spicy lawsuit on top of it.
The monkeys were an order that also ran over Achenbach. St. Gilles, the Zurich gallery, had ordered the monkeys, Immendorff had thrown them according to the bronze hall, or rather, let them pour. Already heavily marked by his illness, Düsseldorf took on artists' helpers who sometimes produced larger than life sculptures in series.
The monkeys should sell Achenbach in consultation with the gallery on commission. He had never been the owner, the art consultant himself admitted in court in his testimony.
But for the sale of the affected 70 monkeys it did not come first. Achenbach was convicted of other fraud trading. He had, among other things, the Aldi family Albrecht paintings and classic cars far above value, Achenbach the country in custody.
Who's behind the gallery?
His impressive art collection was then transferred to Marc D & # 39; Avoine, Wuppertal's insolvency administrator. He wanted to sell the artworks in order to use the money to satisfy the many creditors that Achenbach had on his neck.
According to the court, the insolvency administrator has argued in the end that ownership of the sculptures should also be derived from the property. In addition, stock lists had been delivered, which could hardly be attributed. A further proof is to give bills from the years 2010/11 over 900,000 euros, which Achenbach Kunstberatung GmbH wants to have taken for sale of part of the monkeys. However, the court interpreted the evidence as false invoices. "They don't appear in the balance," a spokeswoman said. The Achenbach bill probably created to deceive the tax office. All an aperture.
How and if the Swiss gallery St. Gilles and Oda Jaune now allocated the proceeds of 1 657 600 euros split, Dusseldorf district court can not say. The Swiss corporation and the Immendorff widow have been in court in other cases – as sued. In December 2013, Jaune won a lawsuit against St. Gilles because bills of around 1.2 million euros had not been paid. The sum was finally transferred.
But who just hides behind St. Gilles is still unclear. In any case, references to a gallery operation on the internet have not been found. According to the commercial register, the board is a Zurich-based business lawyer who, according to his own information, advises "various families and companies in matters of private and commercial law".
Helge Achenbach will hardly impress the verdict. Duesseldorf Higher Regional Court had sentenced him in June 2018 to 16 million euros in compensation for the Albrecht family. Achenbach commented on the judgment with a reference to Joseph Beuys, to whom the notion of a work of art was more important than material execution: "I am dematerialized." Joseph Beuys was the mentor of Jörg Immendorff.