The new owner of the biggest antique markets in Paris has pledged to vet them for authenticity and quality.
Jean-Cyrille Boutmy, a Paris-based entrepreneur who owns and runs independent media group Studyrama, acquired the Paul Bert and Serpette antiques markets in the Saint Ouen district from the Duke of Westminster in a reported €30m deal.
The Duke's Grosvenor Group disposed of its interest in the markets after eight years that have been dogged by disputes.
The group went into partnership with French retail property asset manager Solal Conseil et Dévéloppement (SCD), paying €50m in early 2006.
At the time a spokesman pledged to enhance the reputation of the markets even further, but discord later arose over the issue of projected rent rises, the markets' heritage and whether the interests of dealer tenants were being sacrificed on the altar of property speculation.
Mr Boutmy has long been a buyer at the markets and states his three priorities for the future as:
• attracting the best antiques dealers to Paul Bert Serpette;
• "redoubling efforts to boost measures relating to both the authentication and improving the overall quality of the rare objects on sale" there - i.e. vetting; and
• "providing this unmissable market with an online presence worthy of its status".
This last aim will doubtless be achieved with the help of Studyrama who, among other disciplines, are website specialists.
Fifty of the 350 dealers on the 12,000 square metre site - making it the largest of St Ouen's 14 markets - have joined in the past two years, says the new owner.