German police said they arrested two people and raided 28 premises to bust an international ring that forged paintings and sold them as the work of Russian avant-garde artists including Kazimir Malevich and Wassily Kandinsky.
Police officers in Wiesbaden, Mainz, Stuttgart, Munich, Hamburg and Cologne searched apartments, business premises, depots and art galleries and seized more than 1,000 items, a statement from the Federal Criminal Police Office said.
The forgers are suspected of selling more than 400 works since 2005, for prices ranging from 1,000 euros ($1,332) to more than 1 million euros, the police said. Searches were also carried out in Switzerland and Israel and the nationalities of suspects are Russian, Israeli and German-Tunisian, police said.
The two people arrested, who are 41 and 67 years old, are suspected to be the leaders of an international group of six forgers, police said, adding that they found suspected forgeries and sales documents in their apartments. The forgers copied the style of artists including Natalia Goncharova, Alexej Jawlensky and Mikhail Larionov and passed the paintings off as unknown works, the police said.
Most of the paintings were acquired by private collectors in Germany. The two people arrested may in the last two years alone have sold forged paintings for more than 2 million euros to collectors in Germany in Spain, police said.
Dirty, rotten fakers!