7,000 works of art seized in an investigation, looking for their owners

at least 700,000 euros

On Wednesday, April 27, he had organized a press conference. Less to discuss the merits of the case, which is still under investigation, than to present a website. Established by the police, it exposes these objects as a catalog so that possible owners can identify them and recover them while the investigation progresses.


This mammoth jawbone is one of the most unusual objects found, as well as a mammoth tusk.

Grégoire Morizet/”Southwest”

One million euros in a safe

The case began at the end of 2020, when the Bergerac police station was seized for the theft of a safe. It contained jewelry and collectibles worth a million euros. “The perpetrators were well informed and organized”, analyzes the prosecutor, since they had erased the traces of their crime with a powdered detergent.

“Its market value can triple for collectors”

The Bergerac prosecutor, Sylvie Guédès

The Bergerac prosecutor, Sylvie Guédès

Grégoire Morizet/”Southwest”

The investigation was directed “towards the middle of numismatic collectors and second-hand sellers”, and a judicial investigation was opened for robbery with deception and participation in a criminal association. It allowed updating facts of money laundering and concealment, for which a second investigation was opened in early 2021.

If a series of objects are signed and bear seals, others have fantasy signatures, like this Napoleon 1 on horseback, in modern Asian cast iron.

If a series of objects are signed and bear seals, others have fantasy signatures, like this Napoleon 1 on horseback, in modern Asian cast iron.

Grégoire Morizet/”Southwest”

Three people were arrested and prosecuted: Patrick Gauffre, his son and his partner, who are presumed innocent until they are tried. If the latter two were placed under judicial supervision, Patrick Gauffre entered preventive detention for a year. Known in Bergerac for owning various establishments and real estate, he had already been convicted three times, including for concealment of theft.

Many Asian objects, some ancient, in bone or ivory, were seized.

Many Asian objects, some ancient, in bone or ivory, were seized.

Grégoire Morizet/ “Southwest”

“A cache on the public highway”

Some fifty searches were made, mostly in Bergerac, some in unlikely places. The police commander Sylvain Janiszewski evokes “a hiding place on the public highway” containing in particular weapons, or “strong cabinets behind hatches”. The inventory of the found objects was carried out by an auctioneer assisted by experts in militariat, Asian art, coins and ancient manuscripts.

Sylvain Janiszewski, Bergerac police commander.

Sylvain Janiszewski, Bergerac police commander.

Grégoire Morizet/ “Southwest”

For the time being, the defendants “at no time have justified the legal detention of the objects,” says the prosecutor. Everything that appears in the records of Patrick Gauffre, a dealer in collectibles and precious metals, “is false, wild card and smokescreen,” continues Thierry Latour, of the judicial police.

In Bergerac, Patrick Gauffre's shop for buying and selling rare objects and precious metals has been closed since the beginning of 2021. He has another in Villeneuve-sur-Lot.

In Bergerac, Patrick Gauffre’s shop for buying and selling rare objects and precious metals has been closed since the beginning of 2021. He has another in Villeneuve-sur-Lot.

Grégoire Morizet/”Southwest”

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