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The Paris Biennale opens its doors tomorrow 09/08/18. Hooreman the whistleblower on fake art

Updated: Feb 4, 2019

The Biennale of Paris opens their doors tomorrow September 8 until September 16 2018. Charles Hooreman, new exhibitor at the Biennale

At 41, Charles Hooreman will be the youngest of the Biennale des Antiquaires, which will be held from September 8 to 16 at the Grand Palais in Paris. H is one of the least rich exhibitors: this specialist of the eighteenth century seats is not well established and has only three private clients, there when his venerable colleagues trade with François Pinault, the Bolloré family or David -Weill. It is not likely to go unnoticed. Because Charles Hooreman is the man by whom the scandal happened. In 2012, Charles Hooreman revealed that the Palace of Versailles had bought, at the price of gold and with the eyes closed, fake antique furniture. This case embarrassed the small world of curators and spread up to the French Ministry of Culture. This case dropped some big shots of their direction chairs, unaccustomed to phone tapping, police raids and the Republic jails. These will not participate in the Paris fair, which is above suspicion.

Mathias Ary Jan, president of the “Syndicat national des antiquaires, defends himself from all mischief. "It's not a snub," he says. I do not seek controversy, but to promote young merchants. Charles Hooreman, famous unknown until now, will nevertheless embody the spirit of a salon that has strengthened its "vetting", this commission of independent experts who removed from the exhibition doubtful objects.

The interested person Charles Hooreman, falsely perched and not duped, is aware that the Bienniale, in decline, first needs to rebuild itself while the biggest merchants now prefer the fair in Maastricht. "It's not the promo of my dreams," he admits. But it is good that I participate to make for myself “a name”. Since 2003, Charles Hooreman has made his living by taking advantage of the errors of the auction house experts: poorly attributed furniture, forgotten stamps, neglected details ... This allows him to buy cheap lots that he resells anonymously, at auction a multiple fold of the price he bought it. But he wants to change scale. For a year and a half, he has set aside some important objects, such as this Louis XV armchair he caresses and explains the qualities in the manner of Depardieu in a film by Bernard Blier: "You saw the beast? These open flowers carved like lace, the crazy side of its volutes ... It is violated like the body of a woman ... "

Is the whistleblower, too euphoric? "I am seriously crazy he smiles. At the hotel Drouot, he is nicknamed the "crusader". Not only because it's mission is to clean up the market by shooting red bullets at the false seats of the eighteenth century. His nickname, he owes it also to his ostentatious piety. His eye curls in front of the rococo curves as well as the curves of the pretty women that this practicing Catholic "denies himself to look a second time". This father of almost six children, who quotes the Decalogue with tremolos in his voice, has at his home a crucifix on the wall and says grace before each meal, never ceases to thank Providence and God, "our father who watches on us".

One would pass for an illuminated for less than that. It is in this category that Charles Hooreman was first ranked by the chief curator of Versailles. From 2012, in his convulsive emails, the young merchant claimed that two folds signed Foliot, freshly acquired by the public establishment, were perfectly fake. Just like other seats, attributed to Delanois and Jacob. For months, Versailles turned a deaf ear to this young fool, suspected of wanting to settle accounts with his former professor at the Sorbonne, Bill Pallot, a reputed merchant who had analyzed the splendors. Before admitting that the Curators had indeed taken “of style” seats Faubourg Saint-Antoine for a national treasure!

The two men who cross each other in the staircase of fame are not made of the same wood. Epicurean mischievous and charmer, Bill Pallot is the author of the reference book on the seats of the eighteenth century. Dandy, with long hair and three-piece suits, he dines at the table of the powerful, distracts the crowned heads and chases with the big bosses. Hooreman does not have a network. In the absence of important relationships, nevertheless, the disciple has an eye. The police investigation finally confirms his assertions: in 2016, Bill Pallot is indicted, incarcerated for four months and released pending a trial postponed indefinitely.

Did pupil Hooreman want to kill the master? "I never wanted to take Bill's place," he says. I did not work a quarter of a third of what he did. I was and I remain very appreciative of Bill. He was my hero, he put him on a pedestal. And climbing up on a fuchsia pink stool to signify how much he held him in high esteem. "I love him deeply, but when you do something stupid, you have to fix it. "Contacted, Bill Pallot did not want to speak, but apparently enjoys the kindness of the art world.

For some antique dealers present at the Biennale, the neighborhood of a wrongdoer passes difficultly, even if no one will admit to his face. "I see him with a good eye," smiles the antique dealer Benjamin Steinitz. It's good that he helped get things out. Must we give him the holly communion without confession? "Any man can become a crook, but everyone is waiting for me at the turn," Charles Hooreman replies.

Article in Le Monde

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