From the day it was completed in 1889 as the entrance to the World’s Fair, the Iron Lady showcases the beating heart of the city. “I ought to be jealous of the Tower, she is more famous than I am,” mused Gustave Eiffel, creator of the world’s favorite beacon.
Now, there’s a chance to own a chunk of the tower– consisting of 25 iron steps from the spiral staircase which joined the 2nd and 3rd floor of the monument, dated 1889.
Measuring more than 4.3 meters in height, the piece goes under the hammer at Artcurial, the handsome auction house just off the Champs Elysées. From a private collection in Canada the estimated price is €40,000-€60,000.
In 1983 a lift was installed and this part of the staircase taken down and divided into 24 sections. One remains on the first floor and three others were donated to the Musée d’Orsay, La Villette and the Museum of Iron History, Nancy.
The remaining 20 segments were auctioned and acquired by enthusiastic collectors worldwide. Today there’s one in the Yoishii Foundation Gardens, Japan, another near the Statue of Liberty, New York.
Need to Know: The tower was the highest monument in the world until the construction of the Chrysler Building.
Related article: How a Con Artist Sold the Eiffel Tower (Twice)
This is the third time Artcurial presents this historical piece at auction. In 2013, an original section measuring 3.5 meters reached €220,000. In 2016, section number 13 of the stairs which connected the 2nd and 3rd floors exceeded its estimate tenfold, reaching €523,800.
Not everyone loved her; a group of painters, poets, writers and artists who called themselves “The Committee of Three Hundred” led by Charles Garnier (constructor of The Grand Palais and the Paris Opera House) complained against the radical design of “the gigantic black factory chimney.”
Guy de Maupassant couldn’t stand the sight of his “iron arch nemesis” and lunched daily beneath the Tower because, “inside the restaurant is one of the few places where I can sit and not view it.”
However, the Eiffel Tower will never cease to inspire writers, painters, photographers, film-makers – you and I. “Height, airborne nature, its seemingly weightlessness and openwork design” enthused French philosopher Roland Barthes.
On display at Artcurial from November 8th-27th. Auction on Tuesday, November 27th at 7pm.
7, Rond-Point des Champs Elysées, 8th
Metro: Champs Elysées Clemenceau
Tel: 01 42 99 20 20