In 1939, right as France began fighting a war with Germany that would eventually turn into World War II, an apartment in the middle of Paris was abandoned. For over 70 years, this apartment would sit untouched until an auctioneer opened it to appraise the building. What he found was truly stunning. Inside of the apartment was art work worth millions of dollars.
The apartment was originally owned by Madem De Florian, a twenty three year old Parisian. She had been warned in advance that Hitler’s Nazi soldiers were getting close to France, so Florian locked her apartment and fled the town for a safer place. Though the Nazis controlled northern France and Paris, there was a free zone in the south, where Florian found safety. She eventually built a new life and never returned to her old Parisian apartment.
Though she did not go back to Paris, Florian still kept paying rent on her old apartment. After her death in 2010, her heirs found out that she still had a property in Paris. They hired Olivier Choppin-Janvry, an auctioneer, to go through anything left in the apartment and see if any of the antique furniture might be worth something. Choppin-Janvry and his team were astonished to realize that the apartment was in perfect condition and contained valuable items.
There were dishes, glassware, furniture, and makeup that had been untouched since 1939. In one corner, an original stuffed Mickey Mouse doll rested next to a statue. There were also several paintings and letters throughout the apartment, which had been taken down from the walls for packing but not removed when Florian left. She had several pieces from the late 1800s which had belonged to Marthe de Florian, her grandmother.
Marthe was a famous actress in the late 1800s who loved collecting beautiful items. She was known in the Belle Epoque Era for her beauty and vivacious personality. Her granddaughter had kept her old furniture and other momentoes in the apartment, and there were also several love letters from Prime Ministers and other dignitaries who had fallen in love with Marthe. A lot of these keepsakes were only 50 years old when Florian left them in order to flee the Nazis, but now they are priceless keepsakes that showed how people lived a century ago.
One of the most expensive items within the apartment was a beautiful painting of Marthe when she was twenty four. It turned out that it was done by renowned artist, Giovanni Boldini, who was one of Marthe’s lovers. This painting of Florian’s grandmother from 1888 ended up selling for 3.4 million dollars. It is now considered to be Giovanni’s best work. Check out this video that shows how Florian’s apartment first looked when it was discovered by the auctioneers.