Curiosities have a remarkable power over the collective imagination. Take this case of a woman who was forging forgeries with the signature of Konrad Kujau, the notorious perpetrator of the Hitler Diaries hoax:
The bizarre tale, details of which unfolded in a Dresden courtroom during a two-year long trial, centred on 300 paintings obtained by Petra Kujau. She put his signature on them and sold them on as paintings by Konrad Kujau, claiming they were works the elderly Stuttgart forger had made in his latter years. In yet another twist his works were copied from famous masterpieces.
Petra, 51, who worked for Konrad during the 1990s, claimed to be his great niece. Prosecutors were dubious and she dropped the claim during proceedings, saying instead she was a distant relative. The court gave her a two-year suspended sentence and ordered her to do 180 hours of community service in a kindergarten. She admitted to 40 counts of having bought paintings in Asia and selling them on as “Kujau forgeries” for a total of €300,000 (£247,000). Her 56-year-old male accomplice received a 20-month suspended sentence and 120 hours’ community service.