In March, the Comité Professionnel des Galeries d’Art, a trade association that comprises 310 French art dealers, sued the French government for permission to reopen during the third lockdown, which began on April 4. In a statement following the filing, the coalition denounced the “general and absolute ban” as impinging of the freedom of expression. They also singled out the fact that auction houses were permitted to stay open.
The French government was unmoved. Per a report in Le Figaro, a judge has dismissed the lawsuit. In a statement, the judge said that the closure of public art galleries was a necessary means to curb the spread of more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
Marion Papillon, president of the CGPA, told AFP that she regretted the decision, saying, “The Council of State, while having recognized the serious attack on fundamental freedoms, does nothing about it.” She denounced that the Ministry of Health allowed the continued operation of auction houses as an “unfair” and “intolerable” source of competition for the galleries. She also claimed that the practice of buying art online was not sustainable because collectors need to see a work of art in person before acquiring it.
According to a report in Art Newspaper, a third of the organization’s members lost over half their income last year. Roughly 80 percent of French galleries have lost business since the pandemic began.