A very French scandal
February 21, 2020 5:12 PM   Subscribe

What a curious story. Halfway through the Esquire version it just kind of nonchalantly mentions that Lhéritier happens to win France's largest-ever jackpot. And the manuscript itself was stolen by a family friend and sold for five figures in the 80s? I feel that this story needs a lot of fleshing out. I didn't click on the NYT version, is there any more detail there?
posted by St. Oops at 11:01 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]

The NYT article doesn't mention the jackpot at all, I don't think! So strange.
posted by praemunire at 11:07 PM on February 21

Oh, the NYT article did mention it and made it clear the win was investigated and proved legit, the guy had been playing the same numbers for years and did just happen to win at an oddly opportune moment. Very weird and kinda funny just like the rest of the story. It seems clearly illegal in how the investors were misled about the scheme and the Ponzi-like nature of it all, but the choice in dealing with rare ephemera was inspired for there not really being any hard or set worth to the items other than the usual expectations of cost, which could be subject to dramatic change were the right conditions met. The point about the current sell off radically lowering the value of the items held too is sorta ironically amusing in that light, as in showing how artificial all these values are, which makes the criminal element much trickier to parse.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:16 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]

Well, it's just converging with modern art as an asset class with truly arbitrary values, perfect for your Ponzis and your money laundering.
posted by praemunire at 11:41 PM on February 21

highbrow French scandals

“I licked the chair and voilà,” he says. “I could taste the fraud.”
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:54 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]

For those with long memories, this has echoes of the 1980s when a company called Antiqbooks poured money into rare books and issued a prospectus offering investors the opportunity to buy shares. (The pitch was the same: rare books would keep on going up and up in value, and the returns would be enormous.) It turned out that the man behind Antiqbooks was Richard Bergman, Michael Milken's accountant, and the money was coming from junk bonds. It all ended as you would expect, and a number of rare-book dealers got their fingers badly burned.

One silver lining to the whole affaire Aristophil is that a Charlotte Bronte manuscript that Lhéritier bought for a (frankly ridiculous) £690,000 in 2011 is now coming home to the Bronte Parsonage Museum at a considerably lower price.
posted by verstegan at 4:20 PM on February 23 [2 favorites]

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