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The works were among ten pictures consigned for auction by the Banque Hottinger after being lodged as collateral. The ensemble raised Fr3.4m (around £340,000) in the Binoche saleroom, considerably less than expected; the three works in question were officially declared as sold, for prices short of low-estimate.

France’s public prosecutor has called for Binoche to be given a heavy fine and a suspended two-year prison sentence. Binoche denies the charges, claiming he acted “in the vendor’s interest”. Judgment is expected at the end of March.

• The auction firm Européenne de Conseil, based at Portets near Bordeaux, has been suspended by France’s newly-formed auction watchdog until March 23.

The ban has been imposed by the Conseil des Ventes because the firm is without insurance cover. This follows the decision of AXA, its previous insurers, to cancel its contract in the wake of Européenne de Conseil’s abortive attempts to sell a painting attributed to Van Gogh, Laboureurs, on December 13. As reported in Antiques Trade Gazette 1620, January 3, the sale was cancelled amidst doubts about the work’s authenticity.