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Having a good time

October 29, 2012 - Harry Eagar
From a Vanity Fair article about two German art forgers who stole millions of dollars, got caught and are now in what Germans amusingly regard as "prison":

"The Beltracchis were five months into their jail sentence, and had few complaints about the conditions. Both had been assigned to live in 'open prisons'—the equivalent of halfway houses in the United States, without bars, guns, or guards—and were working at Esser’s photo studio five days a week, often until nine p.m. They also had 80 hours of 'free time' each month, 21 free weekend nights a year, and extra days off at Christmas and Easter. They had rented an apartment in Cologne to use during their vacation time. 'This system of imprisonment doesn’t exist anywhere but here in Germany,' Wolfgang said with a grin, over a lunch of Wiener schnitzel and french fries at a restaurant in an old villa down the road from the loft. Prison officials did, however, insist on strict adherence to the schedule: if the couple reports back late three times in a single month, Wolfgang said, 'they will throw us immediately into the closed prison—without any chance to appeal.' ”

The whole story is amusing if, like me, you think the spread between the best and worst of modern art is very thin.


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