In September of 1939 the Nazis invaded Poland and many Europeans feared when and if their country would be next. Fearing the inevitable Nazi invasion of France, Madame de Florian fled her Paris apartment never to return. She locked the door and never looked back as she and other Parisians flocked to the free zone of Southern France.
Madame de Florian was only 23 when she left her home in Paris. Although she never returned, she continued to pay rent until her death at the age of 91. After her passing, her heirs learned of the locked apartment and hired auctioneer Olivier Choppin-Janvry to take a look. What they found inside was nothing short of amazing.
Like a giant time capsule, Madame de Florian’s apartment remained untouched by all but spiders and dust for nearly 70 years. When they stepped inside, the auctioneer and his team felt as though they were walking into a photograph of a by-gone era. The dining room table was still set with dishes, and artwork had been taken from the walls ready for movers who never came.
Apart from a thick layer of dust, Madam de Florian’s vanity was still awaiting her next styling session. Brushes, make-up, and perfume bottles lay exactly where she had left them more than half a century ago.
At the feet of a beautifully stuffed bird lay a pair of dolls, Mickey Mouse and Porky Pig, that marked the height of pop culture in the late 1930s.
While taking stock of the countless belongings, the auctineer’s team discovered a painting of a woman in a pink dress beside a collection of love letters bound with ribbon. After conducting som further research they discovered some of the letters belonged to Giovanni Boldini, an Italian painter known for his flowing style who lived and worked in Paris for most of his career. The painting became even more special when researchers discovered that it was his beloved muse Marthe de Florian, Madame de Florian’s grandmother. The beautiful “lady in pink” was painted in 1888 when Marthe was only 24-years-old.
Marthe was a famous Parisian actress in the late 19th Century. She lived a life of luxury and had a collected love letters from various famous suitors courting for her favor. Her painting would become Boldini’s most expensive on record when it was finally sold at auction in 2010 for €3 million ($3.4 million) from a starting bid of €300,000.
To see more of the infamous Parisian apartment watch the video below.