The Independent raises a troubling issue for French photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s widow. The French government stored 551 prints of the master’s work in basement that was flooded in 1990. The government was supposed to destroy the damaged prints but they keep turning up on the market and that’s getting up the widow’s nose:
In recent years, according to his widow, Martine Francq, batches of prints from this “lost” collection have been turning up on the French art market. The potential for profit – and official embarrassment – is enormous. Last year an original print, made by Cartier-Bresson himself, fetched $265,000 at auction in New York. “Both sellers and potential buyers should beware,” Mme Franck – also a photographer – said yesterday. “It seems that the French state was doubly negligent, first in failing to look after these works and then in failing to destroy them.” […]
Cartier-Bresson was invited to view the damage and agreed that the prints should be destroyed. Mme Franck now suspects that at least some of the images were stolen or simply thrown in a dustbin and recovered by persons unknown. She says her husband, before his death, identified some of the images offered for sale in 2001 as prints that he had made solely for the 1955 exhibition.
Claude Allemand-Cosneau, director of the CNAC, told Le Monde that he was “extremely sorry” for Mme Franck but there was no proof that the images now surfacing were from the lost collection.
Red Faces in Paris as “destroyed” Cartier-Bresson Snaps Resurface (The Independent)