The man in charge of the auction, François Tajan, CEO of Artcurial, is part of a dynasty of aucioneers and has always had an intimate relationship with the staircase of the Eiffel Tower."
Eiffel Tower For Sale
In 1983, his father was in charge of auctioning off the Eiffel Tower staircase. Engineers of France’s most famous landmark had decided that it should be replaced with an elevator. The staircase was cut in individual parts and sold to the highest bidder.
“My father sold these 24 pieces 35 years ago. At that time I was already in this business, and is funny to see that one of the pieces came back to the market again.”
The staircase is made of cast iron, the same material as the body of the Eiffel Tower, from the Ironworks in the Elzas. It was also used for the internal frame of the Liberty Statue, engineered by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi in 1885.
The Eiffel Tower was state-of-the-art at the time that it was built. “It was esthetic, emblematic, because it is the highest building in Paris.”
But as an object of art, the Eiffel Tower also caused a revolution. “Before this, it was mainly wood,” says Tajan.
“Now, people started thinking, maybe we can do something special, something different, something new. And this is maybe the best symbol in the world of what we can do with iron.”
Eiffel Tower staircases have been sold for prices ranging from €85,000 to €500,000 Euro. “It is mythic,” says Tajan. Just having one small piece of Paris in jour house!”
A Symbol For Paris
Houses capable of sheltering an Eiffel Tower staircase aren’t for those with small wallets, as they need ceilings of at least 4 meter high. “It gives excitement. Abroad more than here, the Eiffel Tower is a symbol for Paris,” says Tajan.
One of the staircases found a home a Las Vegas casino, and another one was bought by a “Love Museum” in China, says Tajan.
That auction resulted in a fierce competition between a Chinese and a Japanese bidder.
“It started out with five or six bidders, but in the end, the buyer and the runner-up were a Chinese and a Japanese. These two countries have a lot of competition,” way beyond purchasing pieces of the Eiffel Tower.
“The person who bought is was so happy, he made selfies in the auction room, talked to the art-collector in China who he represented. It will remain one of my best souvenirs.”
Not everybody likes to have a piece of the staircase to use it to move to a higher level.
In 2014, one bidder bought a staircase to take it apart and sell the smaller pieces as individual souvenirs – following an earlier purchase of one of the stones of the Berlin Wall which he had chipped into manageable small souvenirs.
“Why not?” says Tajan. “But I think a staircase should remain a staircase. Of course the original staircase was divided in 24 pieces of 4 meters, but it still remains a staircase, and with four meters, you can still connect two or three different floors of a house, if you have a duplex, for example.”