Paris’s criminal court has declared in a statement that it had no jurisdiction in a high profile case of suspected Rodin forgeries reports AFP, the judges came to the conclusion that the potential criminal offences were committed outside France. The lengthy legal battle involves a company called Gruppo Mundiale, a businessman named Gary Snell, who is described in the French press as Gruppo Mundiale’s chief – which he denies – and a number of other parties that are accused of being involved in the production, exhibition, and sale of Rodin casts that were not authorised by the Musée Rodin.
Auguste Rodin bequeathed his entire studio and the right to produce casts from his plasters to the French State upon his death in 1917. A number of these plasters – or plâtres d’atelier – never reached the Musée Rodin, which opened in 1919. Several of which were instead acquired by Snell and Gruppo Mundiale in the 1980s and 1990s.
The French press has reported that around 1,700 pieces have been fabricated by the company and its collaborators, which is a figure that the businessman contests. Snell maintains his innocence and that of his business partners. He also suggests that the French court’s decision not to pursue the case has proved that fact.
The businessman now claims that the Musée Rodin was aware of their intention to produce new casts from these plasters and gave its approval, but that the relationship had then declined resulting in the argument surrounding the productions. Rodin’s work is in the public domain everywhere but in France, where instead the Musée Rodin has been charged with protecting the artist’s moral right.
The public institution is self-financing, partly thanks to the sale of authorised Rodin casts from the palsters that it holds, with unauthorised casts labelled as copies. The Musée Rodin – which is acting as a civil party on behalf of the French State – has appealed the court’s decision.
“The tribunal can only recognise that the fabrication, exhibition, sale, and exportation of contentious artworks took place outside the national territory,” stated the tribunal, quoted by AFP.
© Artlyst 2014 photo courtesy of Musée Rodin all rights reserved