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.
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.
The iconic Hotel Lutetia in Paris has closed its doors ahead of major renovations. Monday marks the first day of a week-long auction in which the famed hotel will sell off almost all of its unique inventory. © Photo: Joseph Bamat/FRANCE 24
The century-old hotel is famous for being requisitioned by the Nazis during World War II and used as the headquarters of the Abwehr, Germany's counter-intelligence branch. Once Paris was liberated, the Lutetia became a meeting place for survivors of the war. © Photo: Joseph Bamat/FRANCE 24
A bell-hop's jacket is one of over 3,000 objects on sale, ranging from works of art valued above 80,000 euros to sets of salt and pepper shakers on sale for 40 euros. © Photo: Joseph Bamat/FRANCE 24
Vintage advertising posters line a long hallway of the Lutetia, waiting to be joined with their new owners. © Photo: Joseph Bamat/FRANCE 24
The legendary hotel has welcomed the likes of Josephine Baker, Picasso, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Samuel Beckett. Charles de Gaulle is said to have checked in for his wedding night. © Photo: Joseph Bamat/FRANCE 24
The auction includes all kinds of furniture, wares from Lutetia’s two restaurants and bar, as well as linens and decorations from the rooms. © Photo: Joseph Bamat/FRANCE 24
The historic auction will end with the sale of the hotel's prestigious wine cellar. More than 8,000 bottles will be put on the auction block, including 120 bottles of champagne specially made for the hotel by Taittinger. © Photo: Joseph Bamat/FRANCE 24
The auction will take place within the Lutetia itself. Organisers hope it will break records for an auction of its kind. © Photo: Joseph Bamat/FRANCE 24
The Lutetia will reopen, but only after three years of major renovations that are already underway. © Photo: Joseph Bamat/FRANCE 24
Date created : 2014-05-19