Facets Cinémathèque

October 9–15, 2015

Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery
(Beltracchi: Die Kunst der Fälschung)

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Film still: Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery Film still: Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery


Best Documentary
German Film Awards
"A highly enjoyable look at a career spent duping the art world"
  —Hollywood Reporter
3 stars
  —Slant Magazine
"Engaging, funny"
  —New York Post
"The details are mesmerizing as is the rule-breaking psychology behind it"
  —Chicago Tribune

60 Minutes called Wolfgang Beltracchi a "con man of epic proportions", labeling him and his wife Helene, "the Bonnie and Clyde of the art world." until a simple mistake led to their arrest. For nearly 40 years the charming and effervescent Beltracchi produced hundreds of meticulous works of art, forgeries of early and mid-20th century artists, using old canvases and distressed frames scoured from flea markets and paints whose pigments he ground himself. Amazingly, he did not reproduce known paintings, but, working in an artist's style, would create entirely new "masterpieces." For example, a large Max Ernst that took him three days to produce could sell for $5 million. Beltracchi was put on trial in 2011, but readily admits that the handful of forgeries he was held accountable for are just the tip of the iceberg. Several paintings by different canonized modernists have now been proved to be works by Beltracchi, as many others are in some of the world's greatest art museums and private collections.

As Beltracchi and his wife recount their extraordinary story with humor and candor, some profound questions arise: What makes a piece of art an original? And what makes a person an expert? Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery captures a larger-than-life personality who was responsible for the biggest art forgery scandal of the postwar era.

Directed by Arne Birkenstock, 2014, Germany, 93 mins. In German with English subtitles.


  • Fri., Oct. 9 at 7 & 9 pm
  • Sat., Oct. 10 at 5, 7 & 9 pm
  • Sun., Oct. 11 at 5 & 7 pm
  • Mon.–Thurs., Oct. 12–15 at 7 & 9 pm
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$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

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