Maybe it’s not just a “childish prank”, as André Heller initially called it: the Vienna public prosecutor’s office is now investigating the Austrian artist’s case. It is about the sale of a picture frame allegedly designed by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, about which the weekly newspaper butterfly had reported. Serious fraud is suspected. In an interview, Heller claimed that he was there in 1987 when Basquiat, who died a year later, made the frame in his New York studio. An anonymous collector finally bought the piece in 2018 for 800,000 euros. How now that butterfly revealed, Heller refined the frame himself. With cut up sketches and drawings made by Basquiat for a joint project with Heller.
Heller’s lawyers deny their client’s intention to defraud and are convinced “that the allegations against him can be clarified quickly and completely”. In the meantime, Heller says he has taken back the frame. The question is, however, as he writes defaultwhether Heller protects this reversal of the sale as “active remorse” from punishment. But that would only be the case if the sale in Austria took place. The long period of four years since the sale could also prevent this.