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‘Depraved’ Marquis De Sade scroll returns home

The original manuscript of one of Marquis De Sade's most notorious works "The 120 Days of Sodom" is back in France after an incredible journey that kicked off at the height of the French Revolution.

'Depraved' Marquis De Sade scroll returns home
After decades of struggle a Marquis de Sade manuscript is back in France. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP

Sade's original scroll of the novel on sexual depravity, murder and paedophilia "The 120 Days of Sodom" was returned to France following decades of legal wrangling over a work the author called "the most impure tale that has ever been told since our world began."

The 12-metre (39 foot) long scroll- first discovered in a hiding spot in a cell at Paris's Bastille prison in 1789 – will go on display in the city from September to mark the bicentenary of the infamous eighteenth century nobleman's death.

Written in 1785 while Sade was imprisoned in the Bastille at the height of the French Revolution, the book details the sexual orgies of four wealthy French libertines who rape, torture and finally murder their mostly teenage victims. 

After narrowly surviving the Bastille's destruction, the book has continued to lead an odd and interesting existence. It has allegedly been sold, hidden and its ownership has long been disputed in lawsuits.

But now, current owner Gerard Lheritier, president and founder of Aristophil, a firm specialising in rare manuscripts, spent €7 million on the documents and brought it to France so that it can go on display to the public at Lheritier's private Museum of Letters and Manuscripts.

Lheritier said he would one day like to see the manuscript in the hands of the National Library of France.

"I had proposed keeping the scroll for five years and then gifting to the library but the Ministry of Culture has not acted on this," he told AFP.

Described by Sade as "the most impure tale that has ever been told since our world began", the novel was published in Germany in 1904 after being acquired by a German psychiatrist.

The draft scroll was then bought in 1929 by the husband of Marie-Laure de Noailles, a direct descendant of Sade.

But after it was subsequently stolen, smuggled into Switzerland and resold to Swiss erotica collector Gerard Nordmann, a Swiss court ruled in 1998 that the Noailles family had no claim to it as it had been bought in good faith.

The scroll was put on display for the first time at the Bodmer Foundation near Geneva in 2004.

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AUCTION

Tintin print signed by Aldrin triples estimates at Paris auction

A print from a classic "Tintin" comic book signed by American astronaut Buzz Aldrin fetched 33,800 euros ($37,250), triple the auction house's estimate, at a Paris sale on Saturday.

Tintin print signed by Aldrin triples estimates at Paris auction
The print was signed by several US astronauts including Buzz Aldrin. Photo: Artcurial
The image from “Explorers on the Moon”, a 1950s adventure where the Belgian reporter becomes the first human on the Moon, features an inscription from Aldrin: “First moonwalkers after Tintin.”
   
Aldrin was famously the second man to walk on the lunar surface after Neil Armstrong during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission.
   
Interest in Tintin memorabilia has only strengthened since author Herge died in 1983 — an original drawing for a first edition was sold for $1.12 million in June this year.
 
Earlier this week in Paris, an original page from another Tintin book “King Ottokar's Sceptre” sold for 394,000 euros, far above its reserve price.   
 
However, the star item at Saturday's Paris auction failed to sell.   
 
The Paris auction house Artcurial valued a Tintin drawing from “The Shooting Star” adventure at €150,000 to €200,000, but no bidders were forthcoming.
   
More than 200 million Tintin books have now been sold worldwide, translated into roughly 70 languages.
 
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