Trial Delayed for Kazimir Copy-Cats

WIESBADEN -- After detectives from the German Federal Criminal Police seized a trove of forged paintings, the trial of three men charged with running the art forgery ring specializing in the Russian avant-garde began this week but was suddenly suspended.

The three are charged with attempting to sell 18 forgeries of paintings by artists including Kazimir Malevich, Natalia Goncharova, and Alexander Rodchenko.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network are always concerned about obtaining proper provenances of these very valuable works which are often copied.

In 2013, police uncovered the international art forgery ring, German state prosecutors then officially charged two men with the crimes, Der Spiegel reported at the time.

The two men charged in connection with the illicit operation were said to be a 68-year-old former gallerist from the German city of Wiesbaden, and the 42-year-old former director of that gallery. A 41-year-old man was also charged as an accomplice.

Some 15 months after Police uncovered the international forgery ring, German state prosecutors had officially charged two men with the crimes, with the addition of a third as an accomplice, Der Spiegel reported.

The three men connected with this illicit operation have now been named in court papers as Itzhak H., 68, the gallery co-owner; Moez Ben H., 42, the gallery manager, and Adenande Ben H., 41. This individual has turned out to be the gallerist's brother.

Due to the addition of 18 people arrested on suspicion of money laundering connected to the scheme, the defense team in Germany has requested a one-week postponement, pleading that they were given insufficient notice about a change in the proceedings.

The forgery ring is said to have begun operation in 2006.

Investigators into the illegal ring believe that the artworks were painted in forgery studios that were based in Russia and Israel and then shipped to Germany for sale. This information was obtained during two simultaneous raids in Switzerland and Israel.

Coveted Genre

The Russian avant-garde was a large, influential wave of modern art that flourished in the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, approximately 1890 to 1930—although some have placed its beginning as early as 1850 and its end as late as 1960.

At auction, top examples of these works can fetch sale prices in the tens of millions of dollars.

The term covers many separate, but inextricably related, art movements that flourished at the time; namely Suprematism, Constructivism, Russian Futurism, Cubo-Futurism, Zaum and Neo-primitivism.

Given that many avant-garde artists involved were born or grew up in what is present day Belarus and Ukraine (including Kazimir Malevich, Aleksandra Ekster, Vladimir Tatlin, Wassily Kandinsky, David Burliuk, Alexander Archipenko), some sources also talk about Ukrainian avant-garde.

The Russian avant-garde reached its creative and popular height in the period between the Russian Revolution of 1917 and 1932, at which point the ideas of the avant-garde clashed with the newly emerged state-sponsored direction of Socialist Realism.

Today's homepage Featured Art Video offers an overview of a retrospective of Russian avant- garde held in Germany.