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Infamous German art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi is selling recreations of the world's most valuable painting as a collection of NFTs

Business Insider logo Business Insider 10/8/2021 ndailey@insider.com (Natasha Dailey)
The "Salvator Mundi" paining. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP © Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP The "Salvator Mundi" paining. Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
  • Infamous German art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi is selling thousands of NFTs based on "Salvator Mundi."
  • "Salvator Mundi," which sold for a record $450.3 million in 2017, has been attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Beltracchi was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted in 2011 of forging 14 famous works of art.

Wolfgang Beltracchi - the infamous German art forger - is selling thousands of NFTs of the world's most valuable painting.

Beltracchi, who is best known for his decades-long scheme of forging famous works of art, is joining the world of nonfungible tokens, where digital assets operate as a type of collector's item and can't be duplicated.

He's selling 4,608 original digital artworks of the 500-year-old "Salvator Mundi" painting, according to his website. The collection, called "The Greats," is a "a digital journey through the history of art," as each version of the "Salvator Mundi" recreation incorporates the style of seven art eras, including painters such as Picasso, Van Gogh, and Da Vinci.


Gallery: German porcelain found before Nazis destroyed it sells for $13.6M (Daily Mail)

The original "Salvator Mundi" painting, which is Latin for "Savior of the World," sold for a whopping $450.3 million at a Christie's auction in 2017 to Saudi Arabian Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Experts, however, have struggled with wether Da Vinci truly painted the piece.

Beltracchi's recreations of the piece will be on display when the sale starts in eight to 10 days, a spokesperson told the Block, adding that the artist chose to do the collection because he's "the only person with the necessary skills to implement it. He has managed to fool the 'art experts' hundreds of times with his re-creations of famous painters' work."

Beltracchi was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted in 2011 of forging 14 famous works of art and selling them for millions of dollars. His scheme began in the 1970s and shook the art world when it was discovered.

In a statement to the Block, Beltracchi said, "The NFT market offers artists a platform to market themselves independently and makes them independent from traditional art market mechanisms." The artist did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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