A museum in Elne, Southern France, dedicated to the works of the painter Etienne Terrus recently made a startling discovery. More than half of the artwork in the museum is fake. The Terrus museum spent around $193,000 over two decades to obtain the paintings, drawings, and watercolors.
Eric Forcada, an art historian was entrusted with overseeing the entire Terrus collection while the museum was being renovated. The historian noticed some of the buildings in the paintings were built after the artist’s death so they could not have been painted by him.
This led to more discoveries. “On one painting, the ink signature was wiped away when I passed my white glove over it,” Eric Forcada told reporters. “At a stylistic level, it’s crude. The cotton supports do not match the canvas used by Terrus. And there are some anachronisms.”
A committee of experts confirmed what Forcada suspected and claimed that 82 of the artworks out of a total of 140 in the Terrus collection were actually fake. Yves Barniol, the mayor of Elne, has declared himself shocked by the discovery, but vowed to do everything in his power to find those responsible and bring them to justice.
“Etienne Terrus was Elne’s great painter. He was part of the community, he was our painter,” Barniol said. “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. But we’re not giving up.”
A case has been filed against “X” as no culprit has been identified. But, it is thought that the museum has been a victim of a forgery ring specializing in Catalan painters. The authorities are looking into the matter but there is nothing to report as of yet.