A curator at the Palace of Versailles was suspended from his job for organizing private visits and paid conferences at the former royal residence, which reportedly earned him €25,000 ($26,100) in 2022. However, in a major setback for the palace, a regional judge has suspended the disciplinary action it took against Alexandre Maral, Head of the Department of Sculptures at Versailles, back in March.
On September 25, a judge pushed back against the palace’s decision, citing “serious doubts as to the legality of the disciplinary action and its proportionality in relation to the alleged offenses.”
The case was originally laid out in a five-page report released by the government’s secretary general, Claire Landais, on July 6. It revealed that the Palace of Versailles’s director Laurent Salomé became aware of Maral’s activities in late 2022 and emailed Maral with his concerns in November.
The warning did not dissuade Maral, who carried out a further eight private visits between December 5, 2022 and January 15, 2023.
This prompted the palace to launch an investigation that ran from January to April. It found Maral had held 20 lectures outside of his official capacity and that in only five instances had he informed his employer. Maral was duly summoned to a meeting by Catherine Pégard, the president of the Palace of Versailles, and Landais.
Maral acknowledged that the facts put forward were correct, but claimed the money received had merely compensated for the costs involved in holding such events.
The palace’s management sent a report to Versailles public prosecutor and handed Maral a two-and-a-half year suspension in March. The order accused Maral of misappropriating public funds, engaging in passive corruption, as well as a breach of trust and embezzlement.
“Given his level of responsibility, he was necessarily aware that he was committing a fault by soliciting or accepting payments in return for acts facilitated by his position,” the July 6 report stated.
On September 14, a lawyer working on behalf of Maral, Emmanuel Glaser, claimed his client’s conferences and tours were permitted and that his only fault was not properly informing his employer. He also called into question Pégard’s power to sanction Maral given she is currently serving as interim president with Versailles and has yet to nominate a successor following the end of her term in 2021.
The Palace of Versailles did not respond to a request for comment.
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