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400-year-old Paris Ritz artwork sold for €1.44m

A 400-year-old masterpiece that only came to light during a renovation at Paris's Ritz hotel has been sold for €1.44 million to New York's Metropolitan Museum, auction house Christie's said on Thursday.

400-year-old Paris Ritz artwork sold for €1.44m
An employee of New York's Christie's auction house speaks about "The Sacrifice of Polyxena" by Charles le Brun on January 24th. Photo: Don Emmert/AFP

The painting by 17th century artist Charles Le Brun (1619-1690) had adorned one of the suites in which fashion designer Coco Chanel lived for more than 30 years.

Its presence came as news to hotel management when it was discovered in July 2012, a month before the Ritz closed its doors for a two-year renovation.

"The Met does not yet have a work by Charles Le Brun (so) this completes its collection of 17th century paintings," said Lefeuvre, adding that the work was sold at auction on Monday.

The painting is expected to go on display in New York from the end of May.

Proceeds from the sale will go to the foundation established by Ritz owner Mohamed Al Fayed in memory of his son Dodi, the late boyfriend of Princess
Diana.

The oil painting has been identified by experts as an early work by Le Brun that would have been completed before he became the official painter at the court of Louis XIV, and established his reputation as one of the dominant figures of 17th century French art.

The building that houses the hotel on the swanky Place Vendome dates from 1705 and was initially a family home for French nobles. It became the Ritz after it was bought by Swiss hotelier Cesar Ritz in 1898.

The painting depicts the killing of Trojan princess Polyxena after she was implicated in the death of Achilles. In the absence of any historical records, Christie's have named the painting 'The Sacrifice of Polyxena'.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro

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