Fake Furniture at Versailles?

Posted in Art Market by Editor on June 22, 2016

When I first started thinking about what a reformatted newsletter for the Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art & Architecture might include, I began asking other HECAA members. An esteemed colleague answered immediately, “More gossip!”As much as I liked the response, I’m afraid there’s been very little gossip published here at Enfilade over the past seven years. Yet nothing seems to drive whisperings in the art world like a forgery scandal; and Paris is in the midst of one, with allegations that fake eighteenth-century furniture was sold to Versailles. That the story is receiving widespread coverage in the press and has become a proper legal matter, complete with press releases, probably suggests it’s moved on from the mere gossip stage. Sarah Cascone reported on the story for ArtNet News (10 June 2016), and here’s weekend coverage by Georgina Adam for the Financial Times (19 June 2016) . . . . CH

Chair made by Louis Delanois for Louis XV's mistress Madame du Barry (Versailles)

Louis Delanois, Chair made for Madame du Barry, the mistress of Louis XV, ca. 1769 (Versailles)

A scandal over faked 18th-century French furniture has erupted in Paris, with a couple of eminent specialists under investigation for the alleged making and sale of counterfeit chairs, some of which were bought by Versailles.

One of those under investigation is Bill Pallot, who works for the venerable antique dealer Didier Aaron, which has spaces in Paris, London and New York. Pallot is an art historian, collector, lecturer at the Sorbonne and the author of numerous books on antique furniture, including the reference volume on 18th-century chairs. He is a sworn expert for law courts and a member of both the French antique dealers’ association the Syndicat National des Antiquaires and the Syndicat Français des Experts Professionnels. Both professional bodies have vowed to “take the necessary measures” if the accusations are proved.

The other suspect is Laurent Kraemer, co-director of Kraemer Gallery, a prominent 141-year-old family firm of antique dealers. A master craftsman in the Faubourg St Antoine, a district famed for making furniture of all sorts, supposedly produced the pieces in question.

At issue are six pieces now in Versailles, along with two others that were sold by Kraemer. These two chairs were apparently copied from genuine ones already in Versailles; in 2013 they were listed as national treasures by the authorities and export barred, but were ultimately not bought by the palace because of their hefty price: €1m each.

In a laconic press release, the French Ministry of Culture admitted that Versailles had spent €2.7m, between 2008 and 2012, on furniture that is “implicated” in an investigation by the French cultural police unit (OCBC). . .

The full article from the Financial Times is available here»

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