Buy a piece of the Ritz
onaire kefellers ed gends h s ings. scovered vorce, stol. ortedly stuck in a bathtub there with his lover, and Coco Chanel called the hotel home for more than 30 years. Tragically, it’s also the place where Diana, Princess of Wales spent her final hours with Dodi Fayed – the late son of the hotel’s owner, Mohamed Fayed.
“For me, the Ritz is the quintessential luxury hotel, a Parisian symbol as emblematic as the Eiffel Tower. It’s the Versailles of the hotel world. It represents Parisian chic,” says Vincent Darré, an interior designer who has come to know the contents of this Parisian icon more intimately than most.
Following the Ritz’s recent $450million (£318million) re refurbishment, which saw it reopen in its subtly new guise in 2016, 10 10,000 pieces of the ho hotel’s original furnitur ture and decorative obje jects, in more than 3, 3,500 lots, will be put up for auction next we week in Paris.
To give bidders a se sense of context, Darré ha has recreated various ro rooms, including the Co Coco Chanel, Windsor an and Imperial suites, the Chinese Lo Lounge, Galerie des Vitrines and th the Ritz bar, in a five-day exhibitio tion that runs until Monday at the au auction house Artcurial’s HQ, ap a private mansion on the Champs Ely Elysees.
Working his way through a “giga gantic labyrinth of furniture”, Da Darré selected his favourites as th the four-posted beds, small broc cade ottomans and Regency- style lanterns. He is “crazy”, he says, about the gilt wood Louis is XVI-style beds, the leather sofas as from the bar, the marble baaroque consoles and “the inexxhaustible glittering of the e chandeliers”.
Although there is one piece he would certainly bid on – the Louis ouis XVI-style dog bed which, it t seems, belonged to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and has a guide price of €600€800 (£522-£697).
The most valuable item, says Stéphane Aubert, Artcurial’s l’s auctioneer, is a pair of metal al and marble torchères (candelaabras) that greeted guests in the entrance hall, estimated to be worth €8,000-€10,000. Similarly iconic are the Louis XVI-style dressing tables. “César Ritz wanted to highlight the beauty of every woman by placing these tables in every room as a symbol of femininity,” says Aubert.
“This sale is an exceptional one. It’s the first time that buyers and collectors will have a chance to buy a part of this prestigious hotel, which embodies the elegance and intimate luxury of the French art de vivre.
“The Ritz Paris is a legend with a timeless and unique style. César Ritz wanted his customers to feel at home in a beautiful house.”
While many of these pieces will doubtless be destined for private display cabinets and galleries, their guide prices are not as prohibitive as you may imagine for such iconic pieces of furniture. Cheaper lots with estimated values of €100-€200 include Louis XVI-style clocks and sconces, floor lamps and the familiar red security cordons. For less than €100, you may even be able to procure a set of gilded coat hooks.
Souvenir hunters with an eye on furnishing their own homes would surely love the curving velvet Bar Vendôme sofa (€600-€800), a mini bar (€400€600) or a piece of unmistakable blue and gold signage pointing to the health club and terrace (€400-€600). You can even bid for the hotel’s first bathtub (€1,500-€2,000) – the one that witnessed Edward VII’s misfortune, perhaps? It’s a pioneering feature, in any case, as the Ritz was the first hotel to provide en suite bathrooms. S Sentimentality will driv drive most bidders, says Ant Anthony Lassman, fou founder of the high-end trav travel company Nota Bene Global. “For those who like this classic decorativ rative style, it’s a chance to buy a relative bargain with p provenance,” he says. “The old Ritz was grand, elitist and snobby. They knew how to make you awa aware when you didn’t fi fit in. But with this attitude came elegance and old world glamour.” The superwealthy who have taken suites at the hotel for weeks on end, fans of the likes of Hemingway, Fitzgerald or Chanel, and also interior designers who might have the perfect spot for an unusual item, are also sure to feature prominently among bidders, says Brett Tryner, a fine art auctioneer at Cheffins estate agents. “It may also attract hoteliers looking to buy all the elements of a certain ro room and recreate it, as the sale of The Savoy’s contents did 10 yea years ago. Other buyers will be seek seeking items to decorate their dinner party table to impress guests.” Tryner adds t that the celebrity premium added to many of these items – furniture in the Coco Chanel suite or a bed that Hepburn He lounged on – may leave the guide prices in its wake. “The best practice f for selling these types of i items is to estimate their realistic value and let the market decide what it’s worth. Some names, such as Princess Diana, will also add enormous premiums.” With the sale of its contents goes the “soul” of the hotel, adds Tryner. “Once these items have been scattered around the globe, there is no going back.” Guests at the newly refurbished Ritz Paris can take consolation in the hotel’s motto, however: “Everything must change for things to remain the same.”
In the Ritz bar, 1939, main; a statue, below, from €3,000 Candle holders, from €800; Regency-style table, from €3,000; photo of Coco Chanel, from €200
Seafood stand, left, from €800; a garden gate, from €3,000
Empire-style sofa, from €1,000, left; a barber’s chair, top, from €600