THIS REALLY IS UNBELIEVABLE!
Philip Mould is decrying an entire nation with the sort of force not seen since the Napoleonic wars. “It doesn’t do the reputation of French culture any good at all,” he fumes. “It smacks of Robespierre and dark past times. It has got to stop.”
He is talking, of course, about the decision to destroy a painting long thought by its British owner to be the work of Marc Chagall, and now denounced by a committee of experts, including two of the artist’s granddaughters, as a forgery. Archaic French laws mean the fake may now be burnt in the presence of a magistrate.
Unsurprisingly, Martin Lang, the Yorkshire businessman who paid £100,000 for the painting, is less than happy about this turn of events. “They could chop it up or they could burn it,” says Lang. “There would be no reprieve.”
Since the BBC disclosed the fate of his painting, Nude 1909-1910, in the latest episode of its Fake or Fortune series on Sunday, Lang’s protests have been echoed across the art world – not least by Mould, the art dealer and historian who presents the programme with Fiona Bruce, the newsreader.
Mould is enthusiastically endorsing efforts by Lang’s MEP, Edward McMillan-Scott, to grant a stay of execution. McMillan-Scott fired off a missive to Michel Barnier, a European Commissioner calling for “no action” to be taken until “some less drastic solution” is found. Lang is also investigating whether he might have a legal claim against the Chagall Committee, arguing that his human rights have been infringed.