An employee of Switzerland’s Fondation Beyeler is standing trial in Basel this week for allegedly skimming cash from ticket sales for over 11 years, according to the German new outlet Der Speigel.
At the trial, which started Wednesday, two former colleagues described how they believe she went about her alleged thefts. They accused her of voiding the sale tickets that had already been given to customers and selling tickets twice. This involves telling a visitor their ticket wouldn’t print due to a technical problem and asking them to use their receipt for entry, then selling the same ticket to a different visitor.
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She also is said to have used “emergency tickets” intended for use when the ticketing system was malfunctioning and preprinted tickets for use to ease wait times and long lines during high-volume hours and events, according to SRF.
Prosecutors say the 54-year-old woman owes the museum 899,421 Swiss Francs, which comes out to nearly $1.3 million. The average adult ticket price at Fondation Beyeler is about $25. That would mean the woman has allegedly pocketed the admission price from roughly 40,000 tickets, or about half of the number of seats at a metropolitan football stadium like MetLife in New Jersey (82,500 seats) or SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles (70,240 seats), over her 11 years at the museum. In 2022 the museum had over 360,000 visitors.
The woman denies most of the allegations, according to SRF, though prosecutors have pointed out multiple large cash deposits into her bank account and expenses that include high-end clothes and luxury travel. She has been charged with commercial theft, embezzlement, forgery, and money laundering.
According to Der Speigel, the woman, who had worked at the museum since 2008, has admitted to a small portion of the allegations against her and asked for a plea deal of three and a half years in prison and a fine of about $5,500.