(Michael Sontheimer’s article appeared in Der Spiegel, 4/10/13.)
Roman Abramovich's luxury yacht is anchored out in the bay. We are sitting under coconut palms on a white beach, Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" is playing on the stereo and ice cubes clink in our glasses of white wine. Robert Driessen lights a cigarette. "I am trapped in paradise," he says.
Driessen has lived in Thailand for the last eight years. He owns a café that is close to the water but far away from Europe. They are after him in his native Europe — especially Ernst Schöller, a detective from Stuttgart who specializes in art crimes. Driessen forged sculptures by the Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966). Two of his accomplices are in prison in Germany, after the gang raked in more than €8 million ($10.4 million) with its scrap metal. The only member of the gang still at large is Driessen.
The police believe he forged at least 1,000 sculptures. Driessen, holding a wine glass in his hand, says that it was probably more like 1,300. "But I never kept records."