French Court Dismisses Gallerists’ Appeal to Remain Open in Lockdown
April 16, 2021
A French administrative court this week dashed the hopes of gallerists nationwide in dismissing a suit filed by the Comité Professionnel des Galeries d’Art (CPGA) seeking to allow galleries to remain open as France entered its third Covid-19-related lockdown on April 4, according to Le Figaro. The organization, which represents 310 French art dealers, had filed the suit in March, citing unfair competition from auction houses, which are allowed to remain open, and contending that online sales did not comprise a stable business model, as many buyers prefer to see a work in person before committing to a purchase.
On April 13, however, the Council of State dismissed the suit, saying in a statement that the closure of the galleries was necessary in order to contain the spread of the more contagious variants of coronavirus. In addition to auction houses, hairdressers, bookstores, record shops, and confectioners, among other businesses, are allowed to remain open during the lockdown, which is slated to last four weeks from April 4.
“The Council of State, while having recognized the serious distortion and the attack on fundamental freedoms, does nothing about it,” CPGA president Marion Papillon, told Agence France Presse, pointing to the judge’s “unfamiliarity” with the gallery business.
According to The Art Newspaper, roughly 33 percent of CPGA members saw a 50 percent decline in income over the past year, with 80 percent of French galleries reporting loss of business. France, where museums, bars, and restaurants have been closed since October, has the eighth-highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in the world, and has recently seen a rise in Covid-19-related fatalities, registering 300 such deaths in a twenty-four hour span on April 14. A nationwide curfew has been in place since December, though officials on April 3 moved its start time an hour forward, to 7 p.m.