Norwegian film director Geir Ove Kvalheim has been indicted for alleged large-scale forgery connected to author Knut Hamsun and playwright Henrik Ibsen.
According to The Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (ØKOKRIM), the items include a fake Hamsun pocket almanac from 1943 and the script for Ibsen’s “Solguden” (“The Sun God”) claimed to be a hitherto unknown play.
41-year-old Mr Kvalheim “failed to inform buyers the documents were not authentic, and also gave false information about the documents’ ownership history,” the authority states. Police investigations took three years.
Also part of the collection are manuscript fragments to Hamsun’s “On Overgrown Paths” (”På gjengrodde stier”) from 1949 – the writing of which is reflected by the 1996 film “Hamsun” with actor Max von Sydow – and “John Gabriel Borkman” by Ibsen.
The serious fraud charges refer to Knut Hamsun’s handwritten words spoken at Norwegian traitor’s Vidkun Quisling’s death, a letter from Ibsen to Hamsun dated 1891, with an inscription by Hamsun, dated 1948, as well.
Moreover, there were two, First Edition copies of Ibsen’s “John Gabriel Borkman” with dedications to writer and 1903 Nobel Literature Prize Laureate Bjørstjerne Bjørnson and Edvard Much, respectively.
Mr Kvalheim committed the alleged fraud between 2005 and 2006 via sale to or onward transactions by an Oslo-based second-hand bookshop.
It is believed Oslo’s National Library was one of his victims tricked into buying these fake items, paying 695,000 kroner for the privilege. ØKOKRIM also claims investigations have led them to believe several further forged Knut Hamsun letters are in circulation.
Aud Slettemoen, Police Prosecutor at ØKOKRIM, tells The Foreigner the trial is scheduled to start on 16 April next year at Oslo District Court and will last approximately two months.
“ØKOKRIM considers this matter to be important as these type of counterfeit documents could contribute towards giving a false impression of important people, events, and works in Norwegian cultural and literary history,” say officials.
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