On the occasion of the upcoming auction dedicated to tableware from the Ritz Hotel, Stéphane Aubert – auctioneer in charge of the sale, looks back over Artcurial’s various hotel furniture auctions.
How did hotel auctions start at Artcurial?
It all began in 2007. One day, as a young auctioneer at Artcurial, I received a call from the Trianon Palace at Versailles. The Director at the time, who was planning a refurbishment of the hotel, asked my advice regarding valuing the furniture. Very quickly the idea arose of holding an on-site auction. From the very first day of the auction we were pleasantly surprised to see a full saleroom, and that continued right up to the final fall of the hammer. For each lot, hundreds of hands went in the air, with every piece of furniture and every item finding a buyer.
This first auction was a roaring success and dedicated hotel sales were launched!
After that, other hotels also underwent major refurbishment.
In 2013, we were entrusted with the disposal of all the Crillon Hotel’s furniture.
Exhibitions organised in the actual rooms and suites of the legendary hotel on the Place de la Concorde attracted nearly 20,000 visitors.
This marathon auction lasted a week, during which time I had the pleasure of taking turns with the hammer with François Tajan, this is a wonderful memory for me.
Once again, all the lots found takers, with the César bar fetching more than €300,000!
After that, we followed up with auctions of furniture from The Plaza Athénée, The Hôtel de Paris in Monaco and most recently the Ritz Paris auction.
Could you tell us a little about the Ritz Paris auctions?
In 2018 the Ritz Paris was completely refurbished and we were entrusted with the sale of its furniture and fittings. For such a unique event, we asked the interior decorator Vincent Darré to recreate and reproduce, inside the Artcurial building, the spirit of the Ritz Paris. The Windsor Suite, The Imperial Suite and the Hemingway Bar once again came to life during the exhibition.
The auction broke all records, reaching nearly €8m
In 2020, the Ritz Hotel, which has carefully preserved its glassware, dinnerware and its liveried silverware, is entrusting us with their disposal for this latest auction.
Why are these auctions so successful, do you have any anecdotes to share with us
During the first hotel auction at the Trianon Palace, at the end of the sale, a couple of spry octogenarians approached the podium to thank me for the lot they had won. They had just acquired the furniture from the room where they spent their honeymoon 60 years before! They were overjoyed, it was a moving moment.
Buyers, collectors and connoisseurs at these auctions are extremely varied and come from all over the world. These sales provide the opportunity to acquire a souvenir of the hotel and, in a certain way, a part of the legend.
It is also the occasion to acquire items coming from the best manufacturers or French brands, such as silverware from Christofle or porcelain from the factories of Limoges.
Tell us a little about the auction coming up in June?
This will be the last chance to bid for items from the Ritz Paris!
Several dinner services will be auctioned, including one created specifically by César Ritz – the Marthe model. We will also have various glassware coming from the world’s most famous bar, named of course after one of its most loyal patrons – the writer Hemingway.
Fans will also be able to bid for peach-coloured bathrobes; the shade having been chosen by César Ritz to flatter a woman’s complexion.
The catalogue and layouts have been entrusted to the decorator and gourmet Laurent Buttazoni, who will show how this tableware is perfectly useable in a modern setting and on any occasion at home – whether for eating breakfast or for entertaining friends, and not just in a hotel!