French Art Museum Finds Out That Half It's Paintings Are Fake
A French museum has discovered that more than half of the pictures in their gallery are fakes.
The gallery is dedicated to the French painter Étienne Terrus and is based in the artist's home town of Elne, in the south of France.
The Terrus museum have discovered that 82 works that they had thought were genuine examples of the artist's work are in fact forgeries.
The paintings cost the museum about €160,000 (£140,000) to purchase.
An art historian who visited the museum - and who probably isn't invited back to the museum - alerted the staff to the fake paintings, they had previously not been aware.
The museum's paintings were bought by the local council of the town of Elne for use by the museum over the course of around 20 years.
The art historian, Eric Forcada, contacted the museum in Elne, which is near to the city of Perpignan, to explain that he doubted the authenticity of the paintings on show at the Terrus museum.
The museum reacted to this by gathering a team of experts from the art and culture world to inspect the works. This is how they realised that 82 of them were not genuine works.
The news was announced on Friday upon the reopening of the museum after a renovation.
The mayor of Elne, Yves Barniol, said in interviews on Friday that the whole things is 'a disaster' and made apologies to the people who had visited the museum to see the works before they were known to be fakes.
Some of the paintings feature buildings that were not built before the death of the French painter, and therefore obviously couldn't have been painted by him.
Terrus was born in Elne in 1857 and died in 1922. He lived for much of his life in the Roussillon and in the Pyrenees and was a huge influence on a lot of French painters.
He was a friend and huge inspiration to the influential painter Henri Matisse - who is regarded as one of the most important artists of the 20th century.
The local council has filed a complaint against the people who ordered, sold, or painted any of the fraudulent artworks. Though they don't know who the people responsible are, there is a law in France in which a case can be brought against an unknown party, forcing the authorities to act.
The police are investigating the case.
Featured Image Credit: Musée Terrus