How I would love to have several thousand Euros lying around doing nothing because on Monday 25 November, 2013, a piece of Parisian history will go under the hammer – a section of the original Eiffel Tower spiral staircase.
There are several iconic photographs of this fabulous metal spiral staircase showing Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower, standing there looking pleased as punch at what he has created.
No doubt that look of pride was disguising feelings of unease, because although we all absolutely adore this grand iron lady of Paris now – when it was first created there were lots of detractors. Gustave Eiffel had defended the tower saying “I believe that the tower will have its own beauty… and I submit that the curves of its four piers as produced by our calculations, rising from an enormous base and narrowing toward the top, will give a great impression of strength and beauty.”
The building of the Eiffel Tower started in 1887 and completed in 1889 when it was opened to the public. Before it even began there was a petition signed by 47 “defenders” of the city’s cultural standards. It included several famous artists, writers and architects – Alexander Dumas and Charles Garnier (who designed the Paris Opera House) among them.
It was called a “belfry skeleton” (Paul Verlaine), “a truly tragic street lamp” (Leon Bloy), “a half-built factory pipe, a carcass waiting to be fleshed out with freestone or brick, a funnel-shaped grill, a hole-riddled suppository” (Joris-Karl Huysmans), a “mast of iron gymnasium apparatus, incomplete, confused and deformed” (Francis Coppée). According to these cultural luminaries, if the authorities allowed the tower to be constructed, it would make Paris the laughingstock of the entire world.
On completion the tower proved to be a huge success though there were still those who detested it and writer Guy de Maupassant often ate in the restaurant of the tower because he said it was the only place in Paris where one didn’t have to see the “unavoidable and horrid nightmare”.
Today the Eiffel Tower is one of the most loved structures in Paris, in France and the world. Millions visit it every year to see for themselves this tall metal tower, it is to many a symbol, an icon and a legend.
Some people love it a bit too much! There is a lady who has a fetish for objects, who lives in San Francisco who has “married” the tower and goes by the legally changed name of Mrs La Tour Eiffel.
If you’re thinking you’d like to buy the stairs and take them home as a souvenir, you’ll need a hefty suitcase, the section for sale is three and a half metres high (12 feet) and weighs 750 kilogrammes (1,650 pounds).
The spiral stair case was removed 30 years ago (health and safety regulations) and cut into sections; some went to museums, one section is preserved at the Tower and other sections were auctioned. If you fancy buying these original 1889 steps which once connected the second and third levels the estimate (low in my humble opinion) is €20,000-€30,000 with Artcurial Auctioneers in Paris