2014 April in Paris and I see Giuseppe Tornatore’s film “The Best Offer”: “What is it like to live with a woman?” – “It’s like art auction: you never know if you got the best offer”.
This man’s perspective made me curious about “ventes aux enchères”. I went to Drouot, the auction house, to watch the show. Since the metro station was closed, I got off at Galeries Lafayette and walked on the Boulevard Haussmann checking the streets on my left for Rue Drouot. At one corner, I pass “Le Figaro” and turn my head back to see the name of the street: Breathtaking – at the end of the road Church Sacré Coeur was raising gray and unreal on its hill. The more fantastic the view, the less you expect it.
And it is not the only street that seems to end in a church.Two streets further I find the auction house and go inside. On the first floor there are many rooms with exposed objects. I had a lot of fun looking at various bunches of surviving things to be sold.
In one room there was plenty of pottery. Tens of pots to be sold together.
In another room, there were lots of books with interesting funny titles: “L’amour n’est pas seulement que l’amour”, “Le dictionnaire de la noblesse française”, “L’encyclopédie de la noblesse, de la fausse noblesse et de la noblesse d’apparences”, “La pluie et le beau temps”, “Un drôle de ménage”.
A room was full with Russian literature. No exclusivity for Cehov. Also a book for kids called ” Crocodil “, others ” Apokalipsis Ruskoy Literature” (1923), “Stalinskaya Skola Falsifikatii” (I hope I remember their titles well).
Another room was dedicated to old official documents addressed to “Sa Majesté très chrétienne”.
A funny envelope was exposed on which the sender had written above the address something like that “Gentle postman who do not spare your toes“.
Among the companies there was also “Pierre Bergé & Associés”. One could find there lots of Chinese objects.
The day after I returned to see the auction: there was nothing like in the movie.
The red rooms looked old and too small. The people bidding did not look rich, on the contrary, poor, old and negligent. A man next to me wearing a suit and looking in his 60s bought two paintings of a French orientalist painter. Nothing spectacular, nothing visibly precious. However, they costed him 95,000 Euro each.
A passion for the depths of time: small vases and figurines from before Christ, drawings, pots, jewels etc. Indeed, everything looked old, nothing like a timeless amazing painting in a museum. Around them gravitates an intense world and they stir up pure business. They: old things and interesting old ladies bidding to raise the price.