French Museum Discovers More Than Half of Its Art is Fake

'Collioure in the Pyrenees' by Étienne Terrus
'Collioure in the Pyrenees' by Étienne Terrus
(Musée Terrus)

Terrus museum in Elne in the south of France announced Friday that 82 works originally attributed to the Impressionist artist Étienne Terrus (1857-1922) are actually not by him.

More than half the museum's collection is thought to be fake, prompting the town's mayor Yves Barniol to call the situation a "disaster."

Several months ago, a visiting art historian, Eric Forcada alerted museum staff of his suspicions of the Terrus art. A committee of experts was then formed to authenticate the artwork, resulting in the surprise conclusion that most of the museum's Terrus paintings were not by the hand of the Elne-born artist, who was a friend of Matisse.

Some of the paintings depict buildings that went up after Terrus' lifetime.

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