Oslo District Court judges have sentenced Geir Ove Kvalheim jail for selling forged handwritten manuscripts and letters by Knut Hamsun and Henrik Ibsen.
In Friday’s verdict, some four months following the completion of the trial in May, judges Morten Bjone, Monika Austad, and Ole Kristian Fossmo handed Mr Kvalheim a two-year sentence.
Mr Kvalheim, who has denied guilt, allegedly knew the items were false or doubted their authenticity but sold them for over a million kroner via an Oslo-based second-hand bookshop.
Amongst the items were manuscript fragments to Hamsun’s “On Overgrown Paths” (”På gjengrodde stier”) from 1949 and two, First Edition copies of Ibsen’s “John Gabriel Borkman”.
Prosecutor Jens Bachke had asked the accused be given a three-year prison sentence, with six months suspended. The prosecution also requested Mr Kvalheim pay NOK 1.3 million (about USD 225.8 thousand) for recovery and as compensation.
Defence counsel to Mr Kvalheim, Thomas Berge argued that his client was unaware that the items were fakes. One purchaser was Norway’s National Library.
“If all are indeed replicas, they are so good that they have not been revealed by the country's leading experts. My client is not experienced in the field. He is a collector, but not a professional. He has acted in good faith,” Mr Berge stated.
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