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10 Famous Fake Antiques and the Suckers Who Bought Them


8
Hitler's Diaries
The last known copy of the fake Hitler diaries was sold at auction in 2004 to an anonymous bidder for 6,500 euros. © MICHAEL URBAN/AFP/Getty Images
The last known copy of the fake Hitler diaries was sold at auction in 2004 to an anonymous bidder for 6,500 euros. © MICHAEL URBAN/AFP/Getty Images

In April 1983, Gerd Heidemann, the London correspondent for Stern, a weekly German news magazine, got his hands on Adolf Hitler's diaries. The diaries, allegedly written between 1932 and 1945, were found in East Germany, apparently in the wreckage of a plane crash where they had been hidden since that time.

Stern paid an estimated $6 million for the diaries, and the plan was to publish them in partnership with The Sunday Times of London [source: Levy]. The Times (along with Newsweek) brought in experts to confirm the document's authenticity -- to historian Hugh Trevor-Roper the diaries appeared genuine, at least the handwriting. But as Stern began to share the documents, it became clear they were not authentic -- in fact, they were a modern forgery containing historical mistakes, written in tea-stained composition books -- and as it turns out, Trevor-Roper, who reviewed the documents for their authenticity, couldn't read German. While the documents had come from Germany, they had not come from Hitler; Heidemann had bought the faked diaries from an art dealer (and forger) named Konrad Kajau.


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