A German museum employee, identified as S.K., has been sentenced to one year and nine months in prison for swapping historic paintings for fakes. The fraud was discovered during a routine check of a “frog prince” themed artwork at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. S.K., who worked as a technical employee from 2016 to 2018, used the proceeds from selling the stolen paintings to fund a lavish lifestyle.
The scheme involved stealing early 20th century German artwork from the museum’s storerooms. S.K. successfully operated for nearly two years before being caught. The deception was uncovered when an in-house appraiser noticed that the canvas of the painting “The Frog Prince Fairy Tale” by Franz von Stuck was not authentic.
The museum spokesperson, Sabine Pelgjer, stated that the forgery was easily recognizable. S.K. had taken the von Stuck painting to an auction house in Munich, using a fake name and claiming it was inherited from a family member. The judge presiding over the trial expressed surprise at how easy it was for S.K. to carry out the thefts.
In addition to the prison sentence, S.K. has been ordered to repay approximately $63,000. The Deutsches Museum primarily focuses on science and technology but occasionally houses artwork from private collectors. The museum did not provide immediate comment on the matter.