Once the paddles had been lowered and the slam of the auctioneer’s gavel had echoed out across the floor of the Artcurial auction house in Paris, the murmurs and movement that followed signalled that another section of France’s original Eiffel Tower had been sold, this time at a price of €523,800.
It was an Asian collector who tabled the highest offer, following what has been described as a “fierce” bidding battle. The buyer now owns a set of 14 wrought-iron stairs that originally connected the second and third floors of the Eiffel Tower before they were replaced by a lift in 1983.
Taking an opening offer of €20,000, the bids rapidly galloped beyond the original auction house estimate of €40,000 and slowly wheezed beyond the half a million euros mark.
However, the stairs aren’t the only set that survive from Gustave Eiffel’s iconic 1889 monument. Sections of the iron staircase can still be seen at Walt Disney World in Florida; next to the Statue of Liberty in New York; and in the Yoshii Foundation gardens in Japan.
Still, the significance of owning part of Paris’ most visited attraction can’t be downplayed, as auctioneer Francois Tajan put it to the Associated Press, “the battle over the phone and in the auction room for the stairs showed the profound attachment there is for a monument that is so emblematic of French culture.”