A museum in southern France suffered a terrible blow when experts declared that over half its paintings are forgeries, the BBC reports. The Terrus museum, dedicated to the work of painter Étienne Terrus, apparently knew nothing of the fakes until an art historian informed them. "It's a catastrophe," the mayor of Elne, where the museum resides, tells the Telegraph. "I put myself in the place of all the people who came to visit the museum, who saw fake works of art, who paid an entrance fee. It's intolerable and I hope we find those responsible." Police have taken the fakes and are trying to find those responsible.
Apparently 82 of the museum's 140 works are phony, spotted at times because they contained buildings constructed after Terrus died in 1922. Acclaimed for his landscapes of French Catalonia, Terrus was close with artists Aristide Maillol and Henri Matisse and lived mostly in Elne, a town on the Tech River that's less than three miles from the Mediterranean coast of Languedoc-Roussillon, France 24 reports. The museum spent over $190,000 acquiring paintings they thought were his. But the Terrus likely isn't alone: Art experts say at least one in five paintings in the world's top museums may well be fake.