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Paris: Rare manuscripts to be sold from alleged pyramid scam

By The Associated Press
Posted 11:45AM on Tuesday 14th November 2017 ( 1 week ago )

PARIS (AP) — Thousands of French investors are hoping to recover some of the money they lost in an alleged pyramid scheme when a collection of rare manuscripts goes up for auction starting next month.

The 130,000-piece collection is estimated to be worth a sum that could run eight or nine figures. It includes the original manuscript for "The 120 Days of Sodom," a scandalous novel by the Marquis de Sade, and a hand-written testimony by an American survivor of the Titanic.

A court seized the so-called Aristophil collection and ordered it to be sold off, a process expected to take years. Top lots for the first auction were displayed Tuesday.

Investigators suspect the items were acquired through a pyramid scheme in which works allegedly purchased by clients were resold to new investors.

The original manuscript of "The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinage," a scandalous and pornographic novel written by French writer Marquis de Sade while jailed in the Bastille prison is displayed prior to the auction of the Aristophil Collections, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Thousands of French private investors, victims of a vast pyramid scheme, hope to get some of their stake back when a huge collection of rare and valuable manuscripts begin to be auctioned in Paris next month by court order. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Thand-written 40-folio first-hand testimony by an American survivor of the Titanic Helen Churchill Candee is displayed prior to the auction of the Aristophil Collections, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Thousands of French private investors, victims of a vast pyramid scheme, hope to get some of their stake back when a huge collection of rare and valuable manuscripts begin to be auctioned in Paris next month by court order. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
The original manuscript of "The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinage," a scandalous and pornographic novel written by French writer Marquis de Sade while jailed in the Bastille prison is displayed prior to the auction of the Aristophil Collections, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Thousands of French private investors, victims of a vast pyramid scheme, hope to get some of their stake back when a huge collection of rare and valuable manuscripts begin to be auctioned in Paris next month by court order. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Claude Aguttes, head of Aguttes auction house, gives a press conference prior to the auction of the Aristophil Collections, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Thousands of French private investors, victims of a vast pyramid scheme, hope to get some of their stake back when a huge collection of rare and valuable manuscripts begin to be auctioned in Paris next month by court order. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
The original manuscript of "The 120 Days of Sodom, or the School of Libertinage," a scandalous and pornographic novel written by French writer Marquis de Sade while jailed in the Bastille prison is displayed prior to the auction of the Aristophil Collections, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Thousands of French private investors, victims of a vast pyramid scheme, hope to get some of their stake back when a huge collection of rare and valuable manuscripts begin to be auctioned in Paris next month by court order. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
The original hand written manuscript "Surrealism Manifesto" by French novelist Andre Breton is displayed prior to the auction of the Aristophil Collections, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Thousands of French private investors, victims of a vast pyramid scheme, hope to get some of their stake back when a huge collection of rare and valuable manuscripts begin to be auctioned in Paris next month by court order. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Thand-written 40-folio first-hand testimony by an American survivor of the Titanic Helen Churchill Candee is displayed prior to the auction of the Aristophil Collections, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Thousands of French private investors, victims of a vast pyramid scheme, hope to get some of their stake back when a huge collection of rare and valuable manuscripts begin to be auctioned in Paris next month by court order. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

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