Richard Plaud, a French individual with aspirations of creating the tallest sculpture made of matchsticks, gained attention this week when Guinness World Records declined his extensive model of the Eiffel Tower, citing rule violations.
"I was deeply disappointed," Plaud expressed to TF1 French TV news. Various news sources covered his dismay over the rejection of his labor.
However, following an official reassessment, Guinness World Records Director of Central Records Services Mark McKinley stated in an email to NPR, "It appears that we may have been overly strict in applying our regulations in this instance," as Guinness announced the reversal.
The 1:45 scale model reaches a height of 7.19 meters (slightly over 23.5 feet). Plaud dedicated years and utilized over 700,000 matchsticks to meticulously construct the detailed structure. Finally, last month, he revealed the completed creation to a large audience and his Instagram followers.
The unveiling of the Eiffel Tower model attracted a significant crowd, and Plaud engaged the survey firm AGT to authenticate the structure. The event was captured in a video, showcasing the culmination of his long-term endeavor.
The organization responsible for maintaining Guinness records initially stated that the materials Richard Plaud used significantly differed from the standard matchsticks available for purchase in stores. The crux of the matter was his decision to directly approach a French matchstick company and arrange for a shipment of sticks that were apparently quite typical but lacked the usual flammable tip.
Due to the absence of sulfur, Plaud's ambitious project went up in smoke, as reported by Le Parisien.
The intention behind this approach was to save time and minimize waste. However, in their initial decision issued in late January, the Guinness judges determined that, based on their regulations and standards, Plaud did not utilize the same materials as other record contenders like the former title holder Toufic Daher of Lebanon, who used approximately 6 million matches to construct a scale replica of the Eiffel Tower in Beirut, standing at approximately 21.4 feet.
Plaud, a resident of Montpellier-de-Médillan, located about 70 miles (112.65 kilometers) north of Bordeaux in western France, expressed his disappointment to the media, likening his shattered dreams to numerous slender wooden sticks. A local publication covered Guinness' refusal to validate his attempt for the record, echoing a distinctive English verb: "homologate" (to formally or officially approve), a term that would likely be more widespread if it didn't sound scandalous.
However, a dramatic reversal occurred on Thursday. Guinness World Records overturned its previous decision and updated its website to declare Plaud as the record-holder.
"We are therefore very pleased to bestow Richard with the Guinness World Records title," McKinley conveyed in a message to NPR, "and we have rectified certain inconsistencies within our regulations, which now permit the matchsticks to be trimmed and shaped as the modeler deems appropriate."
Plaud, 47, has been sharing images and narratives documenting his progress in constructing the wooden Eiffel Tower on his Instagram and Facebook accounts. Over the past week, he has also been sharing news articles about Guinness' refusal to acknowledge his accomplishment as a record.
Guinness World Records expressed regret for the "distress" Plaud experienced due to the challenges in obtaining certification for his record attempt. It is now extending congratulations to him "for his truly remarkable structure – and his new Guinness World Records title."