A jobless man who took four drawings out of a world famous artist’s rubbish bin after it toppled over in the street has been fined over 3,000 EUR for his trouble.
The court in Cologne issued the fine after the man, who has not been named in local media, was found guilty after trying to sell the four sketches at auction.
The drawings are by Gerhard Richter, who is reportedly one of the most expensive artists alive in the world today and who regularly features at the top of such lists.
Pictures Credit: CEN
However, the auction house refused to put them up for auction without a certificate of authenticity from the the Gerhard Richter Archives in Dresden and because the works were unsigned.
The defendant told the court he was not “a thief or a criminal” and that he thought he was doing the right thing.
Dietmar Elger, the head of the archives, told the court that the works were clearly originals but that he doubted whether Richter would ever have let them leave his studio unsigned.
Richter, 87, was not in court because he had just spent some time in hospital and was recovering. His representatives, however, said that he thought the entire affair was rather “annoying”.
He was reportedly not interested in having the man punished but did stress that he wanted the drawings destroyed “as originally intended.”
The defendant meanwhile, claimed the bin had been toppled over in bad weather and that the works were littering the street. He felt he was doing a good deed by cleaning up the mess. He also said that he tried to return the works to the artist but never got a reply.
Judge Katharina Potthoff, upon handing down the verdict, said that even if the works had been discarded they were still the artist’s property. It is unclear if the man plans to appeal the sentence.