On April 18, Paris' luxurious Hôtel de Crillon rounded up their most prized possessions and showcased them to the public. The five-day auction featured 3,500 lots that included historic furniture, 2,000 bottles of wine and many once-in-a-lifetime treasures, clearing the way for the upcoming two-year renovation planned for the hotel and new spa. During the course of the week, the hotel made profits of 5.7 million Euros (approx. $7.5M) with over half the sales taking place online.
Sparking the interest of 25,000 visitors, items began selling on day one at six to ten times their initial estimate. Buyers could also claim pieces of the hotel for their homes like the reception counters, staff uniforms and bathrobes. The highest item sold at the auction was a bar designed by the French sculptor Cesar and was sold to a contemporary art collector for nearly $430,000.
A highlight of the auction was Crillon's vast wine and spirits cellar which included a rare Louis XIII Black Pearl Remy Martin cognac that sold for approximately $11,900. Due to the hotel’s celebrated reputation, wine sales vastly exceeded expectation. Of the selections, the red Burgundy and Bordeaux wines seemed to fair well among buyers. Two La Tache Burgundys from 2005 and 2002 sold for around $5,000 and $3,400, respectively. "There is a quoted price for the wine," said auctioneer Stephane Aubert. "But we are above that as there is always the Crillon effect."
Housing some of history’s greatest names and today’s most influential people, Hotel de Crillion’s guests have ranged from Ernest Hemingway to Madonna to Bill Clinton and the ill-fated Queen Marie Antoinette, who took music lessons on its first floor. As a buyer’s wonderland, the remarkable hotel displayed full suites of furniture as well as carpets and linens for sale.
"A sale like this is a unique moment, a real cherry on the cake," said Aubert. I’m sure Marie Antoinette would agree.
Currently owned by Saudi Royals, the hotel dating back to 1907 will undergo a sweeping modernization inside but will maintain its façade that was commissioned by Louis XV in the mid-1700s. Lebanese architect and designer, Aline d’Amman as well as Paris-based decorators Cyril Vergniol, Chahan Minassian, and Tristan Auer have taken on the large task. For those familiar with the hotel, no need for worry, the brilliant gold-embellished salons are registered national historic landmarks and will not undergo cosmetic surgery.
The success of the auction will further facilitate the remodel and allow for the addition of a spa and swimming pool. If the update is anything close to its previous state, guests will have a lot to look forward to come 2015.