French art museum finds more than half of its collection are FAKES

French art museum finds more than half of its collection are FAKES as local mayor describes the revelation as a ‘catastrophe’

  • Renovated museum featuring works by artist Etienne Terrus reopened on Friday
  • But a historian found that of 140 works that make up the collection, 82 were fake
  • The mayor of Elne has described the revelation as a ‘catastrophe’ for the region 

An art museum in the south of France has discovered more than half of its collection consists of fakes. 

The commune of Elne just outside Perpignan re-opened its Etienne Terrus museum, dedicated to the works of the local artist who was born in 1857 and died in 1922, on Friday after extensive renovation work.

But an art historian brought in to reorganise the museum following the recent acquisition of around 80 paintings, found that nearly 60 per cent of the entire collection was fake.

An art museum (pictured) dedicated to artist Etienne Terrus in the south of France has discovered more than half of its collection consists of fakes

Elne just outside Perpignan re-opened its museum, dedicated to the works of the local artist Etienne Terrus (pictured), on Friday after extensive renovation work. Etienne Terrus

Prior to the scandal, paintings by Terrus could fetch up to 15,000 euros (£13,200) and drawings and watercolours would sell for up to 2,000 euros (£1,760). File picture shows one of the artist’s works

The local mayor has described the revelation as a ‘catastrophe’ for the 8,000-strong community. 

‘Etienne Terrus was Elne’s great painter. He was part of the community, he was our painter,’ said mayor Yves Barniol on Friday.

‘Knowing that people have visited the museum and seen a collection most of which is fake, that’s bad. It’s a catastrophe for the municipality.’

Eric Forcada, the art historian who uncovered the counterfeits, said that he had seen straight away that most of the works were fake.

‘On one painting, the ink signature was wiped away when I passed my white glove over it.’

The local mayor has described the revelation as a ‘catastrophe’ for the 8,000-strong community

He alerted the region’s cultural attache and requested a meeting of a panel experts to confirm his findings.

‘At a stylistic level, it’s crude. The cotton supports do not match the canvas used by Terrus. And there are some anachronisms,’ Forcada said.

In all, out of the 140 works that make up the collection, 82 were fake.

Elne’s mayor Barniol insisted that the investigation would be continue until the culprits had been found.

‘We’re not giving up,’ he said.orcada said that prior to the scandal, paintings by Terrus could fetch up to 15,000 euros (£13,200) and drawings and watercolours would sell for up to 2,000 euros (£1,760).

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