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Culture

In pictures: Hôtel Lutetia opens historic auction in Paris

© Photo: Joseph Bamat / FRANCE 24

Text by Joseph BAMAT

Latest update : 2014-05-19

One of France’s most famous hotels is putting almost everything but the walls on the auction block this week, before major renovations that are expected to last three years.

The Hôtel Lutetia became notorious for housing Nazi officers stationed in Paris during World War II.

But after the Allies liberated the French capital, it was used as a meeting place for families and friends who were separated during the war.

In the months that followed, crowds gathered in front of the iconic building around the clock, anxiously waiting for the rare survivors of the Holocaust to return home.

A veritable Art Nouveau and Art Déco monument, the Lutetia first opened its doors in 1910. With its protruding balconies and rooftop arches, it is easily the most recognizable hotel on Paris’s Rive Gauche.

Steeped in France’s history, the hotel also prides itself for having been a second home to artists of all stripes for over 100 years.

Painters and writers, including Picasso and Samuel Beckett, relaxed in its rooms, while other artists helped decorate some of its luxury suites.

In April, the Lutetia closed its doors ahead of a major interior makeover and is auctioning the great majority of its inventory, starting on Monday.

Over 10,000 visitors filed through the legendary building in recent days to view the objects that are on sale at the auction, which is open to the public and could break records.

“Everyone wants to carry off a little souvenir of the hotel,” said auctioneer Pierre-Guilhem Metayer. “It’s a way of owning a little piece of the history of the Rive Gauche, really a little piece of history, period.”

Over 3,000 objects, ranging from the entire reception counter (valued between 1,000 to 2,000 euros) to cream pitchers (40 euros) will get a turn on the auction block.

According to Harold Wilmotte, the art expert for the auction, the contents of room 514, better known as the Arman Suite, will likely be the top bid getters and will collectively fetch over half-a-million euros. The furniture and paintings in the suite named after the French-American artist were created as an ode to music.

“We will start with our most prestigious auction on Monday,” Wilmotte told FRANCE 24, referring to the Arman Suite. Sculptures by César and Takis will also kick-off the historic sell-off.

The gavel will swing down for the last time on Saturday – and mark a milestone in the Lutetia’s history – with the sale of the hotel’s extensive wine cellar, where prices range from 7,000 to 10 euros per bottle.

Date created : 2014-05-19

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