It had to happen one day. In a report on the Versailles estate, the Court of Auditors examines the status of its president, Catherine Pgard. The situation of the latter, believe the magistrates, “is unprecedented”. It “could even be assimilated to a form of misuse of power, where the absence of designation of a successor for more than twenty-seven months results from a failure which reflects on the part of the State, if not a deliberate will of the State, at least a lack of anticipation.
Appointed by decree in 2011, the president served three terms, the maximum authorized by the texts (five years, renewable for periods of three years). Since March 2021, she has been “temporary” in her own position, despite the fact that she has reached the age limit of 67.
“In the absence of designation of a successor since March 5, 2021, the current situation could be assimilated to a fourth mandate, not authorized by the statutes of the establishment. Such a situation is unprecedented in the field of public cultural establishments,” underlines the Court.
Although the decision regarding his possible replacement - or his maintenance against all odds - is in the hands of Emmanuel Macron, the Court contests "the position of the Ministry of Culture" which "maintains that the cumulative number of mandates of Catherine Pgard does not exceed that provided for in the statutory decree. Which, in his eyes, “seems difficult to sustain”.
More seriously, the magistrates note that “the decisions that the president of Versailles takes, as well as those delegated to its directors, could be contested before the courts, particularly in terms of incurring expenses”. For the moment, this is not completely proven. The Palace of Versailles had trouble with one of its curators, who organized private tours of the monument, for remuneration. Laid off, ordered to repay and leave his official apartment, the curator appealed to the administrative court of Versailles. However, the latter ordered his reinstatement: not on the grounds that the Versailles presidency could not legally take a decision, but because he considered the sanction disproportionate. The curator still had to leave his official apartment, located in the ministers' wing of the Palace of Versailles.
The ball is in the court of the Presidency of the Republic, which has the upper hand over the appointment at the head of the establishment. According to our information, Emmanuel Macron recently proposed the succession of Catherine Pgard to a senior cultural official. The latter would have hesitated before finally declining. In the meantime, the castle and the domain advance, with a sword of Damocles around their heads.