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The Attorney General’s Office is closing the case against Andre Heller

The Attorney General’s Office is closing the case against Andre Heller

Because of “effective remorse,” the artist no longer had to respond in court. He had issued a frame like the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

It was one of the most disturbing events in the Viennese cultural scene in the recent past, a process that left many admirers and comrades of André Heller, one of the country’s most charismatic figures, bewildered: the suspicion that Heller was a framer for the portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat forged and sold. The prosecutor’s office launched the proceedings last year after confirming an initial suspicion of serious fraud. At the end of December, it ordered further investigations. After that you heard nothing more. As of Monday, it was announced that the proceedings against Heller would be suspended.

The origin of the whole “frame affair” was an interview Heller himself gave to Walter Weekly. In it he tells of a “trick” he wanted to play on an expert Basquiat by making a frame himself out of broomsticks and nails, superimposing original sketches of Basquiat into it and finally issuing them as a joint work with the American artist. , who died in 1988. Heller had already collaborated with this on his Luna-Luna project. The prank seems to have worked.

However, in 2017 this frame was presented by the Vienna Gallery Wienerroither & Kohlbacher at the New York Art Fair Tefaf alongside a real original portrait drawing of Basquiat. The drawing was supposed to cost two million dollars and the frame three million dollars. No buyer was found at that time. “I wouldn’t sell it either,” Heller claimed in an interview with “Walther”.

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However, the frame was later altered by the Viennese art dealer and artist manager Amir Sharia. According to Walther, a collector reportedly paid €800,000 for it in 2018. Heller bought the frame in time for the research, but before the report was later submitted, Heller’s lawyer denied any intent to defraud. The frame is sold as a frame with Basquiat graphics.

This buyback has now been recognized by the authorities as “active remorse”, and the proceedings have therefore been stopped “for legal reasons”. “Effective repentance” comes on its own when the offender completely repairs the damage caused by the crime before the authorities learn of his crime. (red.)