Monday, January 12, 2015

Own a Piece of Monte-Carlo Hotel History

As part of a four-year, €250-million renovation at the five-star Hotel de Paris, its owner--Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer--will stage a major auction of the hotel's fixtures, furniture, linens, tableware and art from January 25 to 30. 

Artcurial, the prestigious French auction house, will do the honors; they handled recent auctions at the Hotel de Crillon and the Plaza Athénée in Paris. 

The auction takes place in the Hotel de Paris' Salle Empire and will be preceded by a four-day exhibition, January 21 to 24. The exhibit will trace the history of the decorative items and will be displayed in a trail around the hotel. 

All told, some 4000 lots containing 10,000 items will go under the hammer, including furniture from two restaurants, the lobby and the garden; furniture from 138 suites and rooms (including the 210-square-meter Winston Churchill Suite); 400 items of tableware; and monogrammed bath linens. Total value is estimated at €1 million.

The Hotel de Paris will remain open throughout the renovation, with a limited capacity of 53 rooms and suites. Its famous façade overlooking Casino Square will remain untouched, as will the historic spaces such as the lobby (with its equestrian statue of Louis XIV, said to bring luck to those who touch it),  the American Bar, the Empire Room and Alain Ducasse's Michelin three-star restaurant Le Louis XV. (Attention Foodies: Seventeen pieces from Le Louis XV will be on auction.)

"This exclusive sale heralds the first stage of our renovation, which is part of a major metamorphosis of Casino Square," explains hotel director Luca Allegri.  "The Société des Bains de Mer is also remodeling the Sporting d’Hiver, which will bring a new feel to the whole of Monte-Carlo and improve its offering of residences, shopping spaces, gardens and venues when fully completed in 2018."

(Allegri, for his part, says he hopes to purchase something from the Churchill Suite, the hotels' most-luxurious apartment. Located on the 8th floor, it offers private access, two bedrooms, two bathrooms...and splendid views of the harbor, the Rock and the sea. Sir Winston Churchill was a loyal Hotel de Paris guest starting in 1945 and stayed several times in this apartment. The penthouse replacing it will be considered the jewel of the newly done property).

Built in 1864, Hotel de Paris was inaugurated shortly after the magnificent Monte-Carlo Casino.  It was created by Francois Blanc, the founder of the Société des Bains de Mer, who had made his fortune at the Hamburg Casino. His goal? To give the arid Spélugues Plateau--at that time covered in olive, lemon and orange trees--a sumptuous setting for gambling and luxury which would draw "the international elite." To build it, Blanc brought together some of the most-talented designers from France and abroad; the Belle Époque architecture is the work of French architect Godinot de la Bretonnerie.

Eroll Flynn celebrated his wedding here; James Bond stayed here in GoldenEye (1995). Karl Lagerfeld, Coco Chanel, Charlie Chaplin, Salvador Dali, the Prince of Wales, Alexandre Dumas, Baron Haussmann and Prince Napoleon have all been guests.

The redo will impact both public areas and guest rooms, with rooms being enlarged and the number of suites increased. A new garden courtyard will be created along with a new fitness, spa and pool area and a “rooftop villa” with private pool and garden. Architects Richard Martinet and Gabriel Viora have been entrusted to do the lavish update while maintaining the spirit and integrity of the original design. 

The Société des Bains de Mer now owns and operates four casinos, four hotels (Hôtel de Paris, Hôtel Hermitage, Monte-Carlo Beach, Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort) and 33 restaurants including the Le Louis XV, the flagship of Alain Ducasse's empire. (For my story about the restaurant's 25th Anniversary Party, click here.) 

A team of 20 Artcurial employees worked seven months preparing for this sale, with 40 days spent on inventory alone. Leading the sale will be auctioneer and managing partner Stéphane Aubert and co-president Francois Tajan.

Founded in 2002, Artcurial staged 123 sales within 20 specialty departments in 2013 alone, generating sales of €178.1 million. (One recently auctioned piece, La Rivière, a sculpture by Aristide Maillol, brought in €6.1 million and was the year's third most expensive auction item in France.)  Based in Paris, they have offices in Milan, Brussels, Vienna and China, and stage travelling exhibits in the US and Asia.

To see the full auction catalogue with lots of great historic photos, click here. For the auction details, see the Artcurial website here. Finally, for still more info and other art-world happenings (including the Feb 5 charity auction of Pope Benoit XVI's Harley-Davidson, at the Grand Palais in Paris), click here.

Photos: (1, 2) The hotel night and day. (3) This wool-and-silk lobby rug (made in 1962) measures 10.4 x 6.7 meters and is signed "Iran – Daroshtareh – Naïn." It's the most valuable item being auctioned and is expected to bring 10,000 to 20,000€.  (4) Chairs waiting for new homes. (5) Set of 12 “Constellation" plates from the restaurant Le Grill, in Pillivuyt porcelain, marked "Constellation - Le Grill - S.B.M. Monaco."  (6) Teak terrace furniture. (7) Winston Churchill stayed regularly at the Hotel de Paris, starting in 1945. He had his own 210-square-meter suite which he decorated to his own taste, first on the 4th floor and then on the 8th. Churchill often painted early in the morning on the balcony, dressed in his dressing gown. Furniture and objects from the suite to be auctioned include this model boat. (8) A pair of signed "Funny Valentine" chairs by Jean Charles de Castelbajac for Ligne Rosset. (9) You need this grained-leather mini bar, no? (10) This pair of 20th-century "Feuilles" (leaves) lamps in gilded, burnished metal are expected to bring €600 to €800. (11) A set of four lavishly adorned Louis XIV-style torchères, in carved and gilded wood, is estimated at €5,000 to €8,000. (12) More stuff!   (13) Salvador Dali in the hotel kitchen in 1949, photographed by Robert Oggero. (14) Charlie Chaplin lunching on the terrace, 1959. (15)  The hotel and Casino Square in 1910.


  1. Julie what amazing items being auctioned! The china, those fabulous! Thank you for sharing!

    Featuring "Inner Spaces"

  2. This are very awesome piece of artifacts that's auctioned..I wish I could have bought those.



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