Swiss Art Dealer’s Lawyers Plead Insanity in Brutal Murder Case

In a trial that began on Monday in Zurich, lawyers for the young Swiss art dealer Bennet von Vertes pleaded insanity in the case of the 2014 murder of his friend Alex Morgan.

Vertes—son of the established art dealer Laszlo von Vertes—claimed to have been suffering from substance-induced paranoid hallucinations when he beat and choked 23-year-old Morgan to death.

Vertes stands accused of having committed the murder after having consumed alcohol, ketamine, cocaine, and sleeping pills on the morning of December 30, 2014, the Independent reports.

artnet News originally reported on the case in January 2015, when Vertes first confessed to the murder.

The 31-year-old art dealer allegedly “went into a psychotic state with paranoid delusions,” such as hallucinating that he and Morgan were the last people on the planet, and that Morgan was a green alien trying to kill him.

Neighbors told Blick.CH that loud traditional Swedish Yodeling music could be heard coming from the house around that time.

The Daily Mail reports Vertes believed he had superpowers at the time of the attack.

According to the Telegraph, Vertes has been accused of stabbing Morgan with shards of glass from a broken table, beating him with a four-pound sculpture and a three-foot-long candlestick, eventually choking him to death with the latter.

Police arrived at the Vertes home in the Kusnacht district of Zurich after he called saying someone there was “severely injured.” Morgan was declared dead at the scene.

While the young men were in Zurich, partying at the home belonging to Vertes’ parents, the rest of the family were away skiing.

The son of the prominent family allegedly developed an addiction to ketamine and cocaine around the year 2011, after opening his own gallery in Zurich, Vertes Modern, which sells Pop Art and Street Art on the primary market, as well as works by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst on the secondary market.

His father’s gallery currently lists artists including Josef Albers, Willem de Kooning, Keith Haring, Yayoi Kusama, and Banksy.

The murder trial is expected to last one week.

According to the Telegraph, Bennet von Vertes is also reportedly charged with raping a woman, a case which will receive its own trial.

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