I always like the super long art scam/crime stories in Vanity Fair. This one’s no different.
During the 1970s and early 80s, young Wolfgang Fischer led a nomadic lifeâ€”like Peter Fonda in Easy Rider, Helene says. He spent a year and a half on a beach in Morocco, and lived in a commune in Spain. He drifted around Barcelona, London, and Paris, buying and selling paintings at antique markets. He lived on a houseboat in Amsterdam, where he put on psychedelic light shows at the Paradiso nightclub. He enjoyed some early success as a painter in his own right, contributing three works to a prestigious art exhibition in Munich in 1978. But, by his own admission, he was more drawn to the outlaw life. One day during his wanderings, he bought a pair of winter landscapes by an unknown 18th-century Dutch painter for $250 apiece. Fischer had noticed that tableaus from the period which depicted ice skaters sold for five times the price of those without ice skaters. In his atelier, he carefully painted a pair of skaters into the scenes and resold the canvases for a considerable profit. Thirty years ago, fakes were even harder to detect, than they are now, he tells me. â€œThey werenâ€™t the first ones I made, but they were an important step.â€ Soon he was purchasing old wooden frames and painting ice-skating scenes from scratch, passing them off as the works of old masters.