French art expert, Bill Pallot, who spent eight years researching to become the world authority on French furniture from the 18th century, has been involved in a case of art forgery. Pallot purchased some pieces that were used by the Palace of Versailles because they appeared authentic. The situation took a turn when two men who are experts in the field accidentally produced a copy of a 18th-century seat and sold it to Pallot.
One of the men is Bruno Desnoues, who worked as a woodworker-furniture maker, while the other is an elegant dandy. Between 2007 and 2015, Desnoues created more copies of these chairs and seats according to Pallot’s specifications. The high quality of the first piece and the excellent reputation of the other ensured that famous Parisian antique dealers and gallerists were fooled.
They managed to make a profit from selling these seating pieces when Pallot, also known as ‘Père La Chaise,’ convinced them that they had once belonged to Madame du Barry or Queen Marie-Antoinette’s living room or chamber. Some antique retailers agreed, and their combined riches were worth hundreds of thousands of euros. However, the scandal was exposed at the end of 2014 when Tracfin, France’s anti-money laundering cell, released a report revealing the scam.
A court conducted an investigation into those behind the fraud when it was discovered that professionals at Versailles had been taken advantage of. After admitting to making five lottery tickets and placing four at Versailles, Desnoues was arrested. This week, Pallot, Desnoues, and four others were notified that they would be referred to court. The case involving art forgery has not been unique in recent years as former director Jean-Luc Martinez from Louvre was also charged with corruption in France’s art world.