Dating from ancient Egypt to the early 20th century, the lion’s share of the 915 sketches, paintings, sculptures, books and curiosities under the hammer came from a single private collection, painstakingly assembled over 35 years.
Eighty percent of the lots were sold, to a mix of French and foreign bidders, many of them from Asia, fetching a total of around €650,000.
The erotica auction wrapped up Monday night after two days of often fevered bidding that saw a 19th-century condom, for instance, sold for €4,337, seven times its estimate.
Bidders snapped up lacquered pill boxes, pipe and cigarette holders, walking sticks and a bewildering variety of knick-knacks, all adorned with explicit nudes and cavorting couples – often concealed inside secret drawers, or behind more respectable lids and covers.
A collection of explicit mid-19th century daguerreotypes – among the first known nude photographs – sold for well above their estimates, with prices of up to €24,000.
“The works collected from around the world are a testament to the universal and timeless nature of erotica,” said the auction house E.V.E. Leroy, whose catalogue for the sale was 18-rated.
From the world of brothels the sale featured artefacts such as the chips used to pay prostitutes instead of coins, and tiny daggers designed to spear overbearing clients.
“The collector sought out surprising objects, which tell us about a time before cinema and photography, and which are anything but pornographic,” added the auctioneers.