César Ritz opened the doors to The Ritz Paris in 1898, creating a paragon of French sophistication and a playground for the rich and famous – one Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel lived at the hotel for 34 years. Conceived as grand maison, 15 Place Vendôme was lavishly appointed, but it was time for a renovation in 2012. The hotel was closed for the first time in its history, and its original furnishings placed in storage. Now, around 10,000 items from this cache will go under the hammer in a five-day sale held by Artcurial in Paris from April 17-21. Its team has spent the past 12 months cataloguing the material for the auction, which will be preceded by a week-long exhibition at Artcurial’s headquarters on the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées.
Curated into 3,500 lots, the sale offers a taste of the hotel’s history and its contribution to the French Art de Vivre – with pieces ranging from a pair of brass twin beds (€600-€800) through to a Louis XVI table and chair (€300-€600) and a decorative mini bar (€400-€600). Certain items are already creating a buzz around the event, most notably floral chairs (€800-€1,000) that once furnished the Coco Chanel Suite.
Much of the furniture in the collection defined the aesthetic of the hotel’s salons and suites: from sofas(€1,000-€4,000) that once adorned Salon Proust, to Louis XV-style armchairs (€300-€500) from the lavish lobby. Those looking to replicate the glitz of The Ritz will also find gilded Empire tables (€1,000-€1,200) from the original Imperial Suite, plus a pair of Louis XVI candelabra (€800-€1,200) and pink-and-champagne taffeta curtains (€400-€600) taken from the hotel’s north-facing rooms. The ultimate souvenirs, meanwhile, have to be the wool rugs(€600-€800) emblazoned with The Ritz monogram.
A great deal of the hotel’s history is rooted in gastronomy, and the auction includes equipment used by its first chef, Auguste Escoffier, as well as tableware: from everyday china to an exquisite shellfish platter (€800-€1,200) fashioned in the shape of a boat. But it’s the sale of accoutrements from the bar where Ernest Hemingway hung out with F Scott Fitzgerald – and later, where it is claimed the Bloody Mary was invented – that should cause a stir. Three bar stools (€1,500-€2,500) plus a plush three-seat Napoleon-style sofa (€1,000-€1,500) from The Ritz Club recall the glamour of those heady days.