In the Aftermath of $1.9 Million Versailles Scandal, Kraemer Gallery Pulls Out of Biennale Des Antiquaires

The Parisian gallery took the decision of its own accord.

Laurent Kraemer. Courtesy of photographer Jean-Daniel Lorieux/Kraemer Gallery.

The antiques dealer Kraemer Gallery, currently involved in a $1.9 million forgery scandal, has pulled out from participating in the prestigious Paris art and antiques fair Biennale des Antiquaires, slated to take place next September.

The venerable Kraemer Gallery told artnet News that the decision has been taken by them personally.

“We’ve had this big issue and decided to preserve our time and energy. Moreover, we did not want to divert attention from the fair,” a spokeperson told artnet News. “The Syndicat National des Antiquaires [the organization behind the fair] are very thankful for our brave decision, and they are looking forward to having us back next year,” he added.

“We would like to remind everyone that the Kraemer Gallery, which affirms it has never acquired or transferred any object whose authenticity it might have doubted, is entitled to the presumption of innocence,” the Syndicat said in a supportive press statement.

On June 7, the head of gallery Laurent Kraemer and chair specialist Bill Pallot were arrested in Nanterre on suspicion of selling two fake Louis XV chairs to Versailles Palace in 2009 as part of a set of four medallion back chairs, supposed to be Louis Delanois originals.

Investigators suspect that at least two of the four chairs, which were sold for the eye-watering sum of €1.7 million ($1.9 million), could be copies.

Kramer Gallery, however, has consistently denied the accusations. This morning, a gallery spokesperson told artnet News during a telephone conversation: “We are totally innocent, and we hope this will be proven very soon. There’s been a lot of misinformation in the press, as we did not sell the chairs to Versailles, but to a private collector.”

A suite of four Louis XVI gilt-walnut armchairs stamped by Louis Delanois that sold at Christie's Paris in 2015.

A suite of four Louis XVI gilt-walnut armchairs stamped by Louis Delanois that sold at Christie’s Paris in 2015.

Yet, the French art fraud office—the Office Central de Lutte Contre le Trafic des Biens Culturels—has been investigating the pair since 2012, after being tipped off by French antiques dealer and 18th-century chairs expert, Charles Hooreman.

The arrests sent shock waves through France’s antique business, as Kraemer Gallery, which was founded in 1875, has been a mainstay in that market for generations. In 2007, a Forbes profile on the gallery noted that “many 18th-century pieces in the Louvre, the Metropolitan and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts have passed through the hands of one Kraemer or another.”

Shortly after the arrests, a spokesperson told artnet News: “The Kraemer Gallery has never produced any kind of fake furniture of any sort. We have never sold anything we had doubts on,” adding that if the chairs prove to be copies, it would make them “victims … We considered them to be authentic, like the French authorities.”

Poster of the forthcoming edition of the Biennale des Antiquaires

Poster of the forthcoming edition of the Biennale des Antiquaires.

The Syndicat has also announced its decision to suspend the participation of the gallery Didier Aaron in the forthcoming edition of the fair. The gallery is also involved in the scandal, as Bill Pallot works for it.

In a statement, the fair’s board of directors said:

Mr Bill Pallot, whose name has been intimately associated with that of Galerie Didier Aaron for over thirty years, has recently been charged and detained over a matter relating to fake 18th century furniture.

The Syndicat National des Antiquaires has taken the decision to suspend Galerie Didier Aaron’s participation in the forthcoming Biennale des Antiquaires, due to be held at the Grand Palais between 10th and 18th September 2016.

Of course, we are not passing any judgement as to the facts currently receiving ample coverage in the press, and remind everyone that Mr Bill Pallot is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

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