A French council worker who spent eight years building a 24ft matchstick model of the Eiffel Tower has been denied a world record because he used the wrong type of matches.
Richard Plaud started making his replica of the iconic Paris landmark in 2015 and hoped that on completion he would secure a place in the Guinness World Records (GWR) for the tallest matchstick sculpture.
But the organisation has ruled that most of the 706,900 matchsticks he used are ineligible for an official record because they were not commercially available and have been altered significantly from their original form.
“It’s disappointing, frustrating, incomprehensible and not very fair play,” Mr Plaud told The Times. “It’s part of the dream that has escaped.”
In a social media post, he added: “Tell me how 706,900 sticks stuck one by one are not matches. My matchstick tower still stands and will be 7.19 metres (23.6ft) for a long time.”
He said officials from GWR, which describes itself as “the global authority on all things record-breaking”, made its decision without visiting his model.
Mr Plaud, who works in the artworks and bridges department of the Charente-Maritime council in west France, finally completed his project on December 27, the 100th anniversary of the death of Gustave Eiffel, the original tower’s engineer.
The 47-year-old began by buying matches in supermarkets and then manually cutting off the heads. “But it was very fastidious,” he said in an interview in January.
In a bid to ease the process, the model maker subsequently persuaded Flam’Up, a French manufacturer, to supply him in bulk with boxes of matches without heads.
This decision over the construction method appears to have had a crucial bearing on the ruling by GWR. Mr Plaud said he was told the heads had to be scratched off for his attempt to be valid.
The current record is held by Lebanese craftsman Toufic Daher, who created a 21ft (6.53m) model of the Eiffel Tower. Mr Daher used approximately six million matches, according to the GWR website, and unveiled his creation in Beirut on 11 November 2009 in celebration of “Guinness World Records Day”.
Mr Plaud’s building technique involved 402 panels that were designed to fit together to form the matchstick tower. The building work took place in his home in Montpellier-de-Médillan, a village in west France.
As Mr Plaud was putting the finishing touches to the model last year, his wife, Sandra, told a French television station she was looking forward to “getting her living room back”.
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