A great pianist’s instrument collection is desecrated by squatters

A great pianist’s instrument collection is desecrated by squatters


norman lebrecht

July 19, 2019

The Austrian pianist Jörg Demus, who died in April, owned 20 harpsichords and several antique pianos in his chateau at Thouron, France.

The building has since been prey to squatters. One instrument has been used as firewood another as a toilet.

Full report here.



  • Jack says:


  • See Siang Wong says:

    This is terrible news. I have met Jörg Demus several times and admired his art, and we became friends. This news is heartbreaking… 🙁

  • PeterSD says:

    Dreadful. Did Demus leave no executor of his estate??

  • Larry says:

    Sorry but I don’t speak French. Did he die intestate with no one to be responsible for his estate?

  • W Liam Allan-Dalgleish says:

    This event is typical of what we value as a civilization now. We want to return to the time when guilt or innocence was determined by trusting your whole arm into a vat of oiling oil or water. If it became infected, you were adjudged “guilty.” However, like our humble president, unlike then, now we are talkers, cowards, so we take our scatological etc. propensities on those awesome opponents: harpsichords—signs of anti-democratic thinking b

  • Dr William Evans says:

    Who now owns the chateau and its contents? Surely, it’s up to Mr Demus’ estate to rescue the instruments?

    • SVM says:

      It seems that the estate is longer responsible.

      According to the Le Figaro article, the building has been purchased by an Austrian company (the article does not specify whether the instruments were included in the purchase), which has yet to make itself known locally. It is thought that the company is ambivalent because it has a substantial property portfolio. Only the facade has any official listed/heritage status, so the state is powerless to intervene.

  • Bobby Chen says:

    This is a very sad ending to the story of his musical instruments someone needs to rescue and rebuild them

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Where are the police in all of this?

    • Luca Postorino says:

      It is in fact very difficult to get rid of squatters, and not only in France, unless they force an entry. If they steal a key, for instance, the police can do nothing.

  • barry guerrero says:

    Terrible. Such a magnificent collection, owned by an equally magnificent artist. At least Demus got to enjoy them during his time on earth.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Horror! Hope something is recoverable.

  • Luca Postorino says:

    There are some repulsive specimens on this planet. No doubt about it.

    • Martain Smith says:

      Agree totally! Of course not all are privilged to respect the finer aspects of life as some of us are… but law and order should prevail! This case appears of little interest in a land thwarted by unmentionable attacks which attempt to rip society apart.

  • Chris says:

    What disgusting creeps some people are. When they are arrested, charged and then convicted, the perpetrators should be made to clean up the house AND made to pay for the soiled instrument to be completely restored

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      If they are arrested they will probably go free after a short while, laughing they asses off to their next adventure.

  • Luigi Nonono says:

    It is my understanding that France has bizarre laws regarding estates. My cousin died in Paris, and his lawyer grabbed his apartment near Notre-Dame for his daughter to live in. She is probably still there, with my cousin’s antiques and possessions, which they stole, probably claiming “unpaid services.”
    I inquired about this, and was told this is customary with French estates.

    • Martain Smith says:

      Yes – watch out for their antiquated laws! A French friend who’s family crest dates back further than the Hapsburgs’ once explained how he carefully ensured none of his assets remained in France. He eventually died in Windsor, with property way beyond mainland Europe!

  • Melisande says:

    Possession causes trouble, especially when you’re not living in it. A shame that it was ransacked and not taken good care of.

  • muslit says:

    How did he get so rich?