Opulent Hotel Crillon bids farewell to treasures at Paris auction

Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:04am EDT
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By Tara Oakes

PARIS (Reuters) - One of the grandest luxury hotels in Paris will put most of its of furniture and fine wines under the hammer next week to help raise funds for a lengthy restoration.

The sumptuous Hotel Crillon, hushed after the departure of its last guests in March, has been transformed into a buyer's wonderland as it closes its doors for a two-year renovation.

Full suites of furniture are on display ahead of a series of auctions scheduled for April 18-22, with about 3,500 lots including carpets and curtains expected to raise hundreds of thousands of euros.

Buyers seeking to recreate a little bit of the hotel in their homes can even stock up on reception counters, staff uniforms and bathrobes.

"A sale like this is a unique moment, a real cherry on the cake," auctioneer Stephane Aubert from auction house Artcurial said.

Such vast hotel sales are rare, with once-in-a-lifetime treasures available.

A highlight is the hotel's mirror-encrusted bar designed by 20th-century French sculptor Cesar, who gave his name to the annual French film awards where, similar to the Oscars, miniature reproductions of one of his works are distributed.

The artist's signature is inscribed on the twinkling glass front of the bar - protected beneath a perspex panel ever since a cleaner unwittingly took the first version for graffiti and scrubbed it off. Cesar was able to return and sign again before his death in 1998.   Continued...

Visitors take pictures of furniture displayed for auction at the Hotel de Crillon in Paris April 12, 2013. REUTERS/Charles Platiau