The Cols Rouges were stealing objects from Drouot clients and have been sentenced to jail.

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In a scandal that has rocked the French market since 2009, some 33 porters were convicted for stealing objects they were tasked with moving from vendors' homes. A total of 19 porters were given prison sentences ranging from 18 months to three years while 14 were given suspended sentences. 

In the same trial, three commissaires-priseurs or auctioneers have been given 18-month suspended jail sentences and fined €25,000 (£21,000).

In 2009 French police were tipped off that the porters, members of the Union des Commissionnaires de l'Hôtel des Ventes better known as the Cols Rouges because of the red collars on their uniforms, and who could earn up to €60,000 a year, were stealing objects from Drouot clients.

In March 2016 a total of 41 portering staff were told they would stand trial along with six auctioneers who were accused of aiding and abetting thefts between 2006 and 2009.

Pictures by Chagall, Courbet and Matisse were stolen as well as a Ming dynasty plate worth €325,000. 

Hôtel Drouot was a civil party in the legal action, pointing out that the cols rouges were self employed. 

Reaction to the Cols Rouges sentences to follow...