Man who spent years building Eiffel Tower with 700K matchsticks may be denied world record for using wrong matches

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LONDON — You could say Richard Plaud’s dreams of making the world’s tallest matchstick sculpture may have gone up in smoke.

The Frenchman spent the last eight years painstakingly piecing together 706,900 matchsticks to make a 23.6-foot model of the Eiffel Tower, easily beating the existing record by 2 feet.

But, he says, last week the Guinness Book of World Records had bad news for him: He used the wrong type of matchsticks to qualify for a record — because they weren’t commercially available.

“The Guinness Book judges have delivered their verdict, without actually seeing my tower in real life,” he wrote on Facebook.

Plaud, who works for a local authority, said Guinness told him the matches must be available commercially and can’t be cut, disassembled or distorted beyond recognition.

“As the matchsticks were not commercially available, and were not recognized as matchsticks the attempt has been disqualified,” was Guinness’ ruling on the matter, Plaud said.

“BIG DISILLUSION, DISAPPOINTMENT AND INCOMPREHENSION😟🥺. [They] tell me that the 706,900 rods stuck one by one are not matches!!?? And they are too cut to the point of being unrecognizable!!??” he wrote.

“Clearly, the English are really different……😤,” he said, of the London-based Guinness. He ended his message: “No offense to the English.”

Having grown tired of buying matches from the supermarket and manually removing the sulfur heads of each one, Plaud struck a deal with a manufacturer to sell 33-pound boxes of headless matches.

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“When I opened them, it was a bit like Christmas,” he told Le Parisien. While more convenient, this choice of match, which can’t be bought by regular customers in shops, appears to have possibly killed his world record dream. Although Plaud says that the invoices for the matches, as well as evidence from independent observers, will prove that his record attempt was within the rules.

Plaud’s dream of breaking a world record is, in fact, still alive after Guinness told NBC News that it may have been “heavy-handed” in judging this record attempt and would review it.

Mark McKinley, director of Guinness’ central records services, told NBC News on Wednesday: “It’s the job of our records management team to be thorough and fastidious in reviewing evidence to make sure the playing field is level for everyone attempting a Guinness World Records title, however it does appear we might have been a little heavy-handed with this application.”

“We will make contact with the record holder again as well as review rules for similar records as a priority, to see what can be done,” McKinley said.

NBC News has contacted Plaud for comment on the development.

The record is held by Toufic Daher, from Lebanon, whose matchstick Eiffel Tower reached 21.4 feet high in 2009, using 6 million matches.

Plaud began work in his living room in December 2015 and finished Dec. 27 last year, the 100th anniversary of the death of Gustave Eiffel, the French civil engineer renowned for the tower in Paris that bears his name.

“Having a world record was a childhood dream. I always had that in the back of my mind,” Plaud told Le Parisien.

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