French police are investigating a fake ticket scam - possibly involving both Chinese forgers and Chinese patrons - at the Louvre, Paris’s biggest cultural attraction and the world’s most visited museum.
Museum staff last month began noticing that several dozen Chinese tourists with tour groups held counterfeit tickets “of a strange consistency, [with] poor paper quality and ink that hadn’t set properly”, the daily Le Parisien reported.
Later in August better-quality forged items began appearing with serial numbers – exact copies of the museum’s entry tickets.
Also last month Belgian customs officials reportedly seized 4,000 counterfeit Louvre tickets hidden in a parcel from China.
French police are investigating the counterfeit tickets to establish whether a network of Chinese forgers has been conning tour groups with supposedly pre-booked tickets.
A combined ticket for the Louvre’s permanent collections and temporary exhibitions costs £16 (HK$134).
A spokeswoman for the Louvre confirmed that the state prosecutor in Paris had opened an investigation, adding: “The museum will not comment while that investigation is under way.”
The Louvre, which had 10 million visitors last year, draws tens of thousands of people every day in August to see works including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
In April this year the museum was forced to close for a day after workers staged a walkout in protest over pickpockets.
Staff denounced raids by organised gangs, which they said were growing in number and becoming “more aggressive”, targeting both visitors and staff.
The Louvre has stepped up measures to deal with pickpocketing and last year filed an official complaint to the state prosecutor over visitors falling victim to thieves.
Last month the Art Newspaper in the UK reported that London’s Victoria and Albert museum had discovered that “good quality” forged tickets for its popular David Bowie Is exhibition had been sold online, and around 50 discovered among museum visitors.