Selling off the Ritz, one monogrammed slipper at a time

Furnitures of the Proust Salon from the prestigious Ritz hotel are displayed at the Artcurial Auction House before an auction of around 3,500 lots accumulated by the Ritz across decades in Paris, France, April 11, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 12 April 2018

Selling off the Ritz, one monogrammed slipper at a time

  • The Ritz decided to sell the pieces when it reopened in June 2016 after four years of extensive renovations.
  • Buyers can 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.

Paris: Who wants a piece of the Ritz?
The legendary Paris hotel, home for a while to Ernest Hemingway, Marcel Proust and Coco Chanel, is auctioning off 10,000 pieces of furniture and decor through the auction house Artcurial.
The hotel’s reputation for luxury and celebrity has already created global buzz around the sale.
Although the pieces that will be on sale from April 17 to 21 might not have exceptional monetary value, they also pack a certain je ne sais quoi of something from the iconic Place Vendome establishment.
“The resonance of the Ritz abroad is very important,” Stephane Aubert, one of the two auctioneers, told AFP. “The first client who called me to ask about the auction was an American from Texas. We’ve also been in contact with some Australians.”
The 3,500 lots up for grabs are on display this weekend at Artcurial, which used stools from the Hemingway Bar, a 19th-century bathtub, and sofas and a harp from the Proust Lounge to recreate various rooms.
The Ritz decided to sell the pieces when it reopened in June 2016 after four years of extensive renovations.
Buyers can 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 run from 100 euros ($123.40) for a pair of tablecloths to 10,000 euros ($12,341) for a pair of nymph sculptures carrying bronze candelabras that used to decorate the lobby.
Opened in 1898 by Swiss entrepreneur Cesar Ritz the Ritz 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 jewelry shops on the ground floor, making off with over four million euros ($4.9 million) in gems and watches.


Solid gold toilet stolen from English stately home

Updated 14 September 2019

Solid gold toilet stolen from English stately home

  • Toilet was created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and estimated to be worth around £1 million
  • A 66-year-old man was arrested following the burglary at Blenheim Palace

LONDON: A gang of thieves on Saturday stole an 18-carat gold toilet from Britain’s Blenheim Palace, police said, causing flooding that damaged the world-famous stately home.
The fully-functioning toilet, dubbed “America,” was created by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan and estimated to be worth around £1 million.
A 66-year-old man was arrested following the burglary, which took place before dawn at the 18th-century estate near Oxford, southern England.
The toilet was one of the star attractions in an exhibition of Cattelan’s works that opened on Thursday at the palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visitors were able to book time slots to use it — but only for three minutes each, to limit the queues.
More than 100,000 people used the loo during the year it was on display at New York’s Guggenheim Museum.
“The offenders broke into the palace overnight and left the scene at about 4.50am (0350 GMT). No-one was injured during the burglary,” police said in a statement.
Detective Inspector Jess Milne of Thames Valley Police said she believed “a group of offenders used at least two vehicles” — and left a mess behind them.
“The piece of art that has been stolen is a high-value toilet made out of gold that was on display at the palace,” she said.
“Due to the toilet being plumbed into the building, this has caused significant damage and flooding.”
Blenheim Palace said it was “saddened by this extraordinary event, but also relieved no-one was hurt.”
It closed on Saturday but said it would reopen on Sunday.

The palace is home to the 12th duke of Marlborough and his family, and was also the birthplace of British wartime leader Winston Churchill.
The duke’s brother, Edward Spencer-Churchill, who founded the Blenheim Art Foundation, said last month he was relaxed about security around the gold toilet.
“It’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick,” he told The Times newspaper.
“Firstly, it’s plumbed in and secondly, a potential thief will have no idea who last used the toilet or what they ate. So no, I don’t plan to be guarding it.”
He added: “Despite being born with a silver spoon in my mouth I have never had a shit on a golden toilet, so I look forward to it.”
Cattelan, who is known for his provocative art, has previously described the golden toilet as “one-percent art for the 99 percent.”
The Guggenheim had offered the loo on loan to US President Donald Trump, but he declined.
The Italian artist’s exhibition at Blenheim runs until October 27 and includes a taxidermied horse hoisted onto the ceiling of an ornate reception room.
Blenheim has previously hosted exhibitions of work by Ai WeiWei, Yves Klein, Jenny Holzer, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Lawrence Weiner.
Police said they were looking at CCTV footage to help them in the search for the gold toilet, adding that nothing else was believed to have been stolen.