PARIS auctioneer Jean-Claude Binoche has been given an eight-month suspended jail sentence, and fined €100,000, after a Paris court found him guilty of fraud.
The charges were brought in connection with the sale of three pictures in October 1995.
Binoche, 61, was found guilty of buying two works himself at an auction he staged, which is illegal under French law, and of selling another work after the sale (a Prud’hon drawing, L’Apothéose de Racine, to the Beaux-Arts museum in Dijon). After-sales were illegal in France at the time, although have been permitted since 2001.
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.
The court has ordered that all three works must be returned to the consignor, François de la Taille.
Binoche, who told the court
he had acted “in the vendor’s interests”, is to appeal against the ruling.