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On December 9th 1999, Mr. Thierry Ehrmann an artist opened a museum “the Organ” which offered residency for artists in the Abode of Chaos. The domain in the town Saint Romain au Mont d’Or, is the property of the real estate trust VHI owned by the artist. On December 9th 2004, the mayor of Saint Romain au Mont d’Or complained to the prosecutor of Lyon that there was drawings and slogans painted on the outside walls of the property.
On February 16th 2006 the tribunal of Lyon condemned the artist and the real estate trust VHI to fines of €20,000 and €100,000 each for infractions to the code of urbanism and ordered the walls to be cleared of drawings within 6 months. On September 13th 2006, the appeal court of Lyon condemned the artist to a fine of €200,000. On December 11th 2007, the supreme court (cour de cassation) annulled the ruling of the appeal court (case 06-87445). On December 16th 2008, the appeal court of Grenoble condemned the artist to a fine of €30,000, awarded damages of €1 to the town of Saint Romain au Mont d’Or and ordered the walls to be cleared of drawings within 9 months. On December 15th 2009, the supreme court rejected the appeal of the artist (case 09-80709).
On December 31st 2009, the applicants lodged their case to the European Court of Human Rights arguing that the fine of €30,000 and the order to clear the drawings of the outside walls were a violation of articles 10 and 1P1 of the Convention. He added that the ruling of the appeal court of Grenoble was a violation of article 7 of the Convention because pieces of art are by law exempted from the regulations of the code of urbanism (art.R421-1 6)). The applicants are represented by Me Thierry Moulin (Lyon).
On June 7th 2011, the Court found the application to be inadmissible on the ground that the condemnation of the artist was to “defend order” therefore “necessary in a democratic society“. The Court as the French courts refused to rule if the drawings on the outside walls of the domain are pieces of art. Surprisingly the Court invokes the Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society not to protect the artist drawings but to justify the order to clear them in the name of..the conservation of “cultural heritage” . The Convention have not yet been signed by France.
On July 18th 2011, the 5th section of the Court modified the decision Ehrmann and VHI v. France by removing a statement indicating that observations of the government and the reply of the applicant were received by the Court. The head of registrar of the 5th section Claudia Westerdiek didn’t answer our email for comment. According to the applicant (see below his video), he never received the observation from the French government and never submitted any. He announced his intention to file soon another application with the Court.