aggravated sentence for Baux-de-Provence

It is in the immense galleries of the Bringasses and Grands-Fonds quarries (Bouches-du-Rhône), where Jean Cocteau filmed several sequences of his Testament of Orpheusthat a new legal episode has just been written for Cathédrale d’images with the resounding conviction of more than 6.4 million euros from the commune of Baux-de-Provence.

In 1976, this company entrusted the organization of audiovisual shows in these quarries to Cathédrale d’images, founded by Albert Plécy. Thirty-two years later, the municipality unilaterally withdrew management of the site by ending the commercial lease concluded in 1989. In the meantime, Baux-de-Provence had carried out a public service delegation for the benefit of Culturespaces – whose validity was confirmed by the Council of State in 2023 and is now the subject of an appeal before the European Court of Human Rights. Believing that it had been illegally chased from the site by the municipality and dispossessed of the cultural and artistic activity that it had created, Cathédrale d’images then initiated multiple procedures to enforce its rights.

After the Council of State affirmed, in 2016, that the municipality had no obligation to abandon the commercial lease of Cathedral of Images in favor of a public service delegation, the Court of Cassation ruled, in 2021 , that it was necessary to re-examine the compensation of 5.8 million euros owed by Baux-de-Provence to Cathédrale d’images. This is now done since the Lyon Court of Appeal (June 6, 2024) has just increased this compensation by 622,851 euros, in particular because the municipality had not established “that a comparable site was located in reasonable proximity to the former operating site, which would have enabled the Cathédrale d’images company to retain its clientele, consisting mainly of tourists visiting the south of France”.

The new sentence of 6.4 million euros is instructive in its detail: 4.6 million euros for eviction compensation (the value of the business), 1.8 million euros for the harm resulting from “non-retention in the premises”, 100,000 euros for moral damage and 30,000 euros for legal costs. On the other hand, the judges refused to take into account the damage linked to the brand (estimated at 1.5 million euros) because the latter did not appear certain.

This heavy compensation compensates for the damage suffered by Cathédrale d’images and its director Jean Montaldo: “the destruction of a prosperous society (…) having created the immersive shows now available all over the world by our imitators”. This is not the end of this legal saga because the Paris Court of Appeal will have to rejudge the conviction for favoritism and concealment of favoritism of the former mayor of Baux-de-Provence (Michel Fenard), of the company Culturespaces and its president (Bruno Monnier) next December.

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