Eiffel Tower staircase segment snapped up by European buyer for €275,000
A 14-step chunk of the Eiffel Tower's spiral staircase was sold at auction in Paris on Tuesday for 274,475 euros, nearly 10 times the guide price.
Auction house Artcurial said the chunk was bought by a European collection after being put up for sale by a Canadian art collector. It had been expected to fetch 30,000 to 40,000 euros.
The nearly-three-metre-high artefact was part of the original 1889 staircase that connected the second and third floors of the monument for nearly a century before a lift was installed in 1983.
The staircase was then taken down and cut up into 24 chunks which were sold that year.
Twenty pieces were bought by private collections. Three were given to French museums, including the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Science and Industry Museum at La Vilette and the Museum of the History of Iron in Nancy. The last was put on display on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower.
The tower was built by engineer Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World Fair in Paris, an event intended to showcase French achievements a hundred years after the Revolution.
Gustav Eiffel had already designed other iron monuments including the internal structure of New York’s Statue of Liberty before his design was chosen to represent French engineering at the World Fair.
Unloved by 19th Century Parisians
The edifice was intended as a temporary structure and was little appreciated by Parisians at the time. As soon as construction began in 1897, activists, including the writer Guy de Maupassant, signed a petition to have it removed.
But today’s Parisians love the monument which they affectionately call ‘La Grande Dame’ (the grand lady) or ‘La Dame de Fer’ (the iron lady). It has become one of the most iconic buildings in the world.
For Sabrina Dolla, Director of the Design Department at Artcurial, owing a piece of the Eiffel Tower is for collectors, like having a « a little bit of France ».
But she told Le Figaro newspaper that the segments of the original staircase are not just chunks of history but also objects of beauty in their own right. And the buyers can enjoy looking at them. «The segments are not that high and can be easily installed – for example in a traditional French Haussmann-style apartment, or in a loft style living space with an industrial look ».
Open again soon
Yesterday’s price isn’t the highest ever paid for a piece of the staircase.
In 2016 a sale at the Artcurial auction house was the scene of a bidding frenzy that ended at 523,800 euros.
Other parts of the staircase can be found next to the Statue of Liberty in New York, Disneyland in Orlando and at the Yoshii Foundation in Japan.
Until the completion of the Chysler building in New York 1930, the Eiffel Tower was the world’s tallest building, measuring 312 metres. A transmitter has since been added and it is now 324 metre high.
It is due to reopen on 16 December, following its closure because of Covid-19 restrictions.
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