German court orders art dealer to pay 19 mn euros in damages

 A German court on Tuesday ordered an art dealer to pay more than 19 million euros ($22 million) in damages to one of the country`s richest families over the sales of paintings and vintage cars.

Berlin: A German court on Tuesday ordered an art dealer to pay more than 19 million euros ($22 million) in damages to one of the country`s richest families over the sales of paintings and vintage cars.

Helge Achenbach, 62, had added spurious charges during the sale to the late Berthold Albrecht, heir to the Aldi Nord supermarket empire, the court in the western city of Duesseldorf said.

Albrecht paid around 97 million euros in total for 21 artworks and 11 vintage cars -- some 19.3 million euros too much, the court found in its ruling on a civil claim.

Spiegel Online reported in December that the art consultant`s contested deals included paintings by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein and Gerhard Richter, while the vintage cars were Ferraris, Bentleys and Jaguars.

The two men had agreed on a five-percent commission for the purchase of paintings and sculptures and three percent of the net purchase price for vintage cars, the court heard.

But in billing Albrecht, Achenbach calculated the commission at his own discretion, which was unjustified because he did not inform the Aldi heir, the court found.

The judges said that no "economically insightful" person or business personality such as Albrecht would have "engaged in such completely opaque pricing".

A criminal case against Achenbach for fraud is also currently underway in a court in Essen. He denies the charges.

Albrecht, who died in 2012, was the son of Theo Albrecht, founder of the Aldi group.

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