Bordeaux, 5 December 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA).
Eight people in Bordeaux have been accused of a legacy of trafficking counterfeit contemporary art pieces. An entire family is involved in this affair of fakes, which includes knock-offs of works by, amongst others, Alexandre Noll, Charlotte Perriand and even Jean Prouvé.
An enquiry was set up in 2008 following a confession from one of the accomplices in the trafficking, who gave the name of Géraldine Duran-Blondel, a Bordeaux lawyer. The investigations which followed traced the network of counterfeiters right up to its mastermind, Christian Duran. When Mr Duran died in 2006, it seemed that members of his family had carried on the tradition, as the 89 counterfeit objects discovered five years ago would attest to.
Eight people appeared before the judge in the Bordeaux courts in mid-October, including Christian’s widow, his daughter and son, as well as other presumed accomplices. The charges against them are conspiracy to commit fraud, forgery, and the handling of stolen goods as part of an organised group. According to the newspaper Sud-Ouest, “The judges have abandoned the aggravating circumstances of organised crime and conspiracy, and are partially acquitting the defendants and reviewing the facts in this case which has all elements of a family saga surrounding the death of the patriarch.”
Duran’s widow has received a suspended sentence of one year in prison for the handling and concealment of stolen goods. The daughter, Géraldine, a Bordeaux lawyer, has received a suspended sentence of 15 months in prison and a fine of €50,000 for aiding and abetting fraud, forgery and the handling and and concealment of stolen goods. The son, Samuel, has been found guilty of fraud, forgery and the handling and concealment of stolen goods, and has been sentenced to 30 months in prison, six with no remission. A Ukrainian worker, a Polish man and a dealer in second-hand goods who made copies of the artworks have also been sentenced for forgery.