Art expert Bill Pallot, world authority on 18th-century French furniture, has been put on trial for manufacturing fake period furniture acquired by the Palace of Versailles between 2008 and 2015, AFP learned on Wednesday from sources close to the case.
After eight years of judicial investigation, a Pontoise investigating judge on Monday referred six individuals and a prestigious Parisian antiques gallery to the criminal court for this forgery scandal which shook the microcosm of antiques and monuments historical.
Also read: Bill Pallot, the 18th century seating expert who fooled Versailles
At the origin of this file is the “bet” of two men intoxicated by their ability to fool the greatest specialists and buyers of 18th century French art. At the center of the affair, “Père La Chaise” namely Bill Pallot, a 59-year-old French dandy with long hair and elegant three-piece suits, is notably fired for deception. Until now an undisputed French specialist in 18th century royal furniture, he wrote the world reference work on the subject. At his side, Bruno Desnoues, a cabinetmaker from Faubourg Saint-Antoine, a historic woodworking district in Paris.
From 2007-2008, the duo produced and sold a handful of fake seats presented as extremely rare period furniture which would have adorned the living room of Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis XV, or the cabinet of Queen Marie-Antoinette. An “exhilarating” deception, by their own admission, which will earn them hundreds of thousands of euros.
Acquired by established galleries, the fake antiques are then resold by them to prestigious clients such as the Palace of Versailles. Following a report from Tracfin in 2014, investigators ended up uncovering this incredible traffic, particularly embarrassing for the prestigious institution.
Contacted by AFP, the National Domain - civil party in the case - and Bill Pallot's defense did not wish to comment. The investigating judge also referred to court the Kraemer antique gallery, one of the most luxurious in Paris, and one of the brothers who runs it, Laurent Kraemer. If the judge recognized that the Kraemers were not “in collusion” with the counterfeiters, they are accused of “not having carried out sufficiently thorough checks” on the incriminated furniture.
“The Kraemer gallery has been deceived and with it all the greatest French experts in 18th century furniture (...) We are impatiently awaiting the hearing to demonstrate that the Kraemers have no other place in this case than that of victims” , reacted to AFP their lawyers Mauricia Courrégé and Martin Reynaud.