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The Louvre has been hit by a fake tickets scandal after museum staff spotted Chinese tourists trying to get in using forgeries, leading to the seizure of 4,000 fakes in Belgium.
Suspicions among staff at one of the world’s most famous museums were first aroused on August 12 when a guide accompanying a group of Chinese tourists tried to hand in an unusually crinkly ticket.
“To the touch, the ticket had a strange consistency and the general quality of the paper used wasn’t good,” said a Louvre management source.
“It looked like the ink had spread and hadn’t been fixed well during the printing. Orders were given to all security agents on the site to be vigilant,” he told Le Parisien newspaper.
Two days later, agents identified several more “suspect” tickets – this time far better quality fakes. “They had series numbers and were identical to our tickets in every way,” said the source.
Two Chinese people were arrested on August 19 with a dozen of the forgeries.
During police questioning they provided the name of their supplier, who had already vanished from his Parisian flat when officers arrived.
Then at the end of last month, Belgian customs alerted French authorities that they had seized 4,000 forged tickets hidden in a package sent from China.
“The organiser or organisers of this network haven’t been identified but they appear to have acted with the complicity of several Chinese tourist guides,” said the Louvre source.
According to the museum, no fresh fakes have been detected since the Belgian haul. “But the entry tickets are valid for a year. We can expect more fakes to pass through in that time,” he said.
The forgeries are not the only problem the Louvre has had to face this summer. In June, staff walked out on a one-day protest against rocketing thefts from aggressive pickpockets, mainly gangs of minors from Eastern Europe. The crime rate plummeted after reinforcements were drafted in.