The men are 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.
The lawyers of the two accused ringleaders declined to comment on their clients’ case when contacted by Der Spiegel. Both men remain in custody.
State prosecutors confirmed to the news magazine on Monday that the two men stand accused of offering and selling 18 forged works of Russian avant-garde art in the style of Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Alexej von Jawlensky, and Natalia Goncharova, among others. According to prosecutors, the sale of 11 counterfeit paintings resulted in around €3 million ($4 million) of income for the forgers.
Detectives from the German Federal Criminal Police seized a trove of forged paintings together complete with forged provenance documents and receipts as well as jewelry and other valuables in a coordinated raid across six German states last June.
Based on information obtained during two simultaneous raids in Switzerland and Israel, investigators believe that the artworks were painted in forgery studios based in Russia and Israel and were later brought to Germany for sale.