A total of 15 items of furniture copying designs from the celebrated Swiss architect are to be destroyed this week, along with one counterfeit Vitra piece, the cantonal prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Monday.
The designer chaise-longues, arm-chairs and sofas supplied by a now-defunct British company were seized in 2011 and stored in the basement of the prosecutor’s office.
Three of the items were first intercepted by the Federal Customs Administration at the Rheinfelden border crossing.
They had been ordered from English internet merchants by customers in Switzerland, who knew they were reproductions, the prosecutor’s office said.
A further 13 items of such furniture were subsequently seized by customs officials after the prosecutor’s office launched an investigation against the internet trader for “infringement of copyright” and violation of unfair competition laws.
Investigations led to the prosecution of a man who was identified on the home page of the UK internet company as a managing director.
But a trial in November 2014 concluded the individual had acted as a “straw man” and it could not be proved that he was actually in charge of the company that went bankrupt, the prosecutor’s office said.
In Germany, however, criminal investigations are under way against other individuals who were allegedly running the company, the office said.
The Aargau prosecutor has handed over prosecution of the case to German authorities.
Le Corbusier, born in La Chaux-de-Fonds in 1887, is widely regarded as Switzerland’s most famous architect, establishing a reputation as an innovator of the “modernist movement” before he died in France in 1965.
He is also well-known for his furniture designs, including tubular metal and leather arm chairs and sofas.
The other piece of fake furniture to be destroyed is a copy of a piece designed by the Vitra furniture company, headquartered in Birsfelden in the canton of Basel-Country.