France’s Ritz hotel smashes record with furniture sell-off

The legendary Ritz hotel, home for a while to Ernest Hemingway, Marcel Proust and Coco Chanel, sold off some 10,000 pieces
AFP

Paris (AFP) – Luxury furniture auctioned off by the legendary Ritz hotel in Paris sold for 7.3 million euros ($9 million), a world record in the industry, auction house Artcurial said Saturday. 

The Paris hotel, home for a while to Ernest Hemingway, Marcel Proust and Coco Chanel, sold off all 10,000 pieces of furniture and decor.

They included stools from the Hemingway Bar, a 19th-century bathtub, and sofas and a harp from the Proust Lounge.

The Ritz sale outperformed other hotels around the world, the auction house said. 

In 2013 in Paris, Hotel de Crillon made 5.9 million euros from a furniture sale while Plaza Athenee made 1.4 million euros.

The 3,400 lots that were up for grabs were on sale between April 17 and 21.

Buyers bid on objects ranging from velvet security cordons and curtain ties, to rugs, bedframes and sets of bathrobes and slippers embroidered with the Ritz insignia.

Price estimates ran from 100 euros for a pair of tablecloths to 10,000 euros for a pair of nymph sculptures carrying bronze candelabras that used to decorate the lobby.

“The Ritz has excited a sudden passion, attracting buyers from all over the world,” auctioneer Francois Tajan told AFP.

The Ritz decided to sell the pieces from its famous Place Vendome address when it reopened in June 2016 after four years of extensive renovations.

Owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed since 1979, the hotel had accumulated impressive quantities of objects since it was opened in 1898 by Cesar Ritz.

It has served as the backdrop to several key moments in French history.

The Nazis requisitioned it during World War II but had cleared out by the time Ernest Hemingway burst in with a group of Resistance fighters on August 25, 1944, gun in hand, to “personally liberate” it.

Realising he was too late Hemingway took to the bar where he is said to have run up a tab for 51 dry Martinis.

In 1997, tragedy befell the hotel when Britain’s Princess Diana, who had been staying there, was killed in a car accident in a Paris tunnel while being pursued by paparazzi.

The hotel made global headlines again in January, when robbers armed with guns and hatchets ransacked jewellery shops on the ground floor, making off with over four million euros ($4.9 million) in gems and watches.

.