By Evie Salomon
How was convicted art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi able to pass off his paintings as the work of history’s most celebrated artists from Fernand Leger to Max Ernst? By channeling the spirit of the dead artist whose work he forged.
“What he was doing was a very, very complicated business mentally,” Simon told 60 Minutes Overtime. “He was a brilliant actor in that he could impersonate an artist and then do the painting.”
Beltracchi told Simon he even imagined he was speaking with the ghosts of great artists past as he forged their work.
“Sometimes when I was painting…I have had really an impression they’re looking over my shoulder,” Beltracchi told Simon. “Max Ernst was little bit angry, I think.”
In Beltracchi’s imagination, the ghost of Ernst was angry because his forger may be more talented than he was. Certainly, Beltracchi was talented– in the art of fooling the art world, museums, and galleries for almost 40 years.