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article imageValuable painting found in cobweb-filled Paris flat

By Lynn Curwin     Oct 6, 2010 in Entertainment
A French woman left her Paris flat before World War ll, leaving behind many items, including a painting by Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. The objects remained untouched and unseen until the woman’s death, at the age of 91, this year.
After the woman died experts who were compiling an inventory of her possessions entered the flat near the Trinité church in Paris' 9th arrondissement. One of them compared it to entering Sleeping Beauty’s castle, where time had stood still.
"There was a smell of old dust," The Telegraph quoted Olivier Choppin-Janvry, who made the discovery, as saying.
The dusty, cobweb-filled flat had an old wood stove and stone sink in the kitchen, and he saw items such a stuffed ostrich and a Mickey Mouse toy dating from before the war.
He reported that his heart skipped a beat when he saw the painting, which depicted a young woman in a pink evening dress.
Although he suspected the painting was by Boldini, he was unable to find any record of it.
"No reference book dedicated to Boldini mentioned the tableau, which was never exhibited," Marc Ottavi, the art specialist he consulted, said.
Then Choppin-Janvry found a visiting card with a love note from Boldini on it.
He was able to find a book by the artist's widow, which said the painting, of his former muse, Marthe de Florian, was from 1898. The actress was 24 when the art work was done.
It was Marthe de Florian’s granddaughter who had owned the dusty flat, which she left when she moved to the south of France.
The painting has now sold at auction for €2.1 million, a world record price for Boldini. There were 10 people bidding on the work.
"It was a magic moment. One could see that the buyer loved the painting; he paid the price of passion," The Telegraph quoted Ottavi as saying.
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