Mystery of the Art Market: Is Famous German Artist a Farce?

The unprecedented scandal has erupted around the mysterious Dada artist Karl Waldmann, whose works have been repeatedly sold at German auctions over the years. The experts have concluded that this personality is just a figment of imagination created by a group of swindlers who made money by selling Waldmann’s works.

The legend says that Karl Waldmann was born in Dresden in the late XIX century and allegedly disappeared in the Soviet Union labor camps in 1958. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the artist was “rediscovered” by a French journalist who had found many of Waldmann’s works at a flea market in Poland. Overall, there are about 1,200 artworks considered to be created by Karl Waldmann between 1930 and 1958, most of which are collages and photomontages. According to the website dedicated to Waldmann’s heritage, the artist’s relatives described him as insane. They told that Waldman did not want to expose his works because of the mental health problems, though, most likely, he had been influenced by the Nazi regime and the Stalinist censorship. According to another theory, Karl Waldmann had never been a true artist because he was engaged in an entirely different activity and created his works in his spare time.

Soon after their discovery, Karl Waldmann’s works quickly spread across multiple auction sites. Some of them were even included in the collection of the Kunsthaus Dresden art gallery. However, the artist’s story has recently, and rightly, been called into question. First of all, the doubts are caused by the fact that there is no mention of such an artist as Karl Waldmann in the literature of art criticism. Moreover, nothing is said about him in documents from that period, as well as in publications after his “rediscovery” in 1989. In fact, there is no piece of documentary evidence of Waldmann’s biography stated on the “official” website.

Police have already launched an investigation in relation to this matter. Nevertheless, Pascal Polar, a Belgian gallery owner who is the main seller of Waldmann’s works, insists that this Dada artist really existed, and all his works are authentic. It is also worth noting that Karl Waldmann has a museum. According to its website “it is a virtual museum and, unfortunately, does not have its own building, but they have a project that is under consideration right now.” What’s more, there is information that a large number of works by Karl Waldmann are now in Brussels, but there is not a word about their exact location. It is not surprising that the Kunsthaus Dresden art gallery is extremely concerned about what is happening. They have even put forward the version that this entire story is most likely a contemporary art project that uses mystification as an artistic method. So, let’s wait and see!