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Culture

Paris erotic museum cleans up at closing-down sale

media One of the artworks on sale after the closure of Paris's Erotic Museum AFP

France's only erotic museum on Sunday held a closing-down auction that brought in almost half a million euros,three times more than the pre-sale estimate.

The privately run Paris Museum of Eroticism has been forced to close as the owner of the building has decided not to renew the lease and no suitable premises could be found elsewhere.

Owners Jo Khalifa and Alain Plumey, a former porn star, who founded the museum nearly 18 years ago, said falling tourist numbers and rising rents caused by creeping gentrification of the traditionally red-light Pigalle area.

Much of the 2,000-item collection, including its oldest object, an 18th-century marble plaque of the Hindu god Vishnu from an Indian tantric temple, comes from Asia. 

One of the highlights of the sale, handled by Paris auctioneers Cornette de Saint Cyr, was an imposing modern steel sculpture showing a woman having sex with a robot. It went for over 38,000 euros, way over its estimate of 7,000-8,000 euros. 

More than 500 potential buyers were present in the auction hall wit a similar number were bidding via the internet. 

The auction also included many drawings and photographs from late 19th-century Belle Epoque Paris and objects taken from France's legal brothels, or maisons closes, which were shut down after World War II.

A work by Salvador Dali, a bas-relief version of his painting entitled Young Virgin Auto-Sodomised by the Horns of Her Own Chastity went for 20,608 euros, despite its inital estimate of 2,000-3,000 euros. 

A picture of a topless Mona Lisa was sold for over 13,000 euros. 

Other lots included drawings by Georges Wolinski, one of the cartoonists killed during the 2015Charlie Hebdo attacks who had been a supporter of the museum.

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