The Musée Etienne Terrus has discovered that more than half of their collection of paintings are forgeries. The museum in Elne, France, was named after a local artist, Etienne Terrus. The 19th century landscape painter was friends with the famed Impressionist, Henri Matisse.
The town had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to collect and showcase their local artist’s works, only to now discover that 82 paintings are rank forgeries. The fakes were discovered after a $365,000 renovation when a guest curator pointed out inconsistencies in some of the collection’s preeminent works. After a team of experts verified the findings the town brought in the police, who have opened an investigation into the paintings and seized the forgeries. Worse, some of the fakes were incredibly obvious–including paintings that featured buildings from the 1950s even though the artist died in the 1920s. We’re not sure how the collector missed that!
It’s a sad truth that many paintings in major museums around the world are fakes, but this is a particularly heavy blow to the local community that invested in their favorite son and a fancy new gallery.