A museum in France that paid $256,000 for 82 works it believed were painted by Etienne Terrus, has discovered they are fakes.
The Terrus museum in Elne, which sits near the border with Spain and is dedicated to the painter, announced that the works originally attributed to Etienne Terrus had been created by someone else, local media has reported.
Elne’s mayor Yves Barniol told France Bleu the discovery was a “catastrophe”.
“I put myself in the place of all the people who came to visit the museum, who saw fake works, who took a ticket of entry, whatever the price.”
The paintings, drawings and watercolours that make up more than half of the museum’s collection cost about 160,000 euros ($256,000) and were bought in the 20 years leading up to 2010, the BBC reports.
Art historian Eric Forcada contacted the museum several months ago to share his suspicions over the origins of the works.
The museum assembled a panel of experts which later confirmed Mr Forcada’s doubts.
French police have launched an investigation into the alleged forgery and fraud.
Terrus was born in 1857 and died in 1922, and lived most of his life in Roussillon.
He was also friends with renowned painter Henri Matisse.