For decades this five-room apartment located in the capital’s 16th District concealed a bas-relief of the goddess Nike, or The Winged Victory. In 2019 it was discovered during renovation work. Starting price: 2.9 million euro.
As soon as you cross the threshold, she appears with her raised sword, her wings and her crown of laurels, not forgetting her beautiful drapery which stands out against a dark background. 1.73 metres high and 1 metre wide, this bas-relief of the goddess Nike, or the Winged Victory, is lit up like a star, and is included in the sale of the apartment marketed by the Daniel Féau Passy & la Muette agency at a price of 2,945,000 euro. Located in rue René-Bazin (16th District), this magnificent 212 sqm five-room apartment had a major surprise in store for its buyers shortly after they bought it in 2019.
“The previous owners had lived here for forty years. We wanted to redo it to our own taste and had a mirror removed. Behind this the workers came across a board fixed in with four screws. The company called me and when I gave them the OK they removed it… and then asked if I could come over. When I saw the goddess, I was flabbergasted” Anne smiles.
A secret witness to two eras
One of the sons of the previous owners who still lives in the building was not even aware of its existence! Why has it been hidden away all these years? Was it to protect it from theft during World War II? Had it simply been forgotten?
Under the goddesses’ spell, Anne brought in the father of a friend, an antique dealer, and then an expert. The latter did some research and came to the conclusion that it was a copy of a work adorning the fireplace in the King's apartment in Château d'Écouen (Val-d'Oise), the National Renaissance Museum: "While the original dates back to this period, the reproduction dates back to the end of the 19th or the beginning of the 20th century” according to Arnaud Romieux, expert in furniture, works of art and collectibles who carried out the estimate. “The Middle Ages and the Renaissance had a revival at the end of the 19th century. People began to order neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance decorative features, of which this bas-relief is an example.”
The expert estimated it at between eight and ten thousand euro: “This represents its value should it need to be replaced or should it be damaged. It can’t be considered to be its market value” he insists. The current owner also contacted one of the curators of the Écouen museum: “He got back to me three hours after receiving my email. According to him, there are only three other copies in existence, and the mould has disappeared” Anne continues. “He asked me if he could reference it.” So, in the context of the sale, has this remarkable discovery influenced the price of the apartment? “It doesn't justify increasing the asking price” Dominique Thibaudeau, head of the Daniel Féau Passy & la Muette agency immediately decided. “Nonetheless it gives the property a particularity which amply justifies its price.” At 13,900€/sqm, the apartment is in the high price range that goes with higher floors, despite it being on a lower floor. For the apartment has other characteristics that increase its potential value: it has been entirely renovated and boasts, amongst other qualities, a sublime airy and bright panelled living/reception room featuring 3.10 metre high ceilings, a designer dining room with black walls, a huge bay window in the kitchen overlooking a pretty courtyard, and two distinct sleeping areas, one with two bedrooms for children, and another for the parents.
“It belongs here”
Why is the apartment up for sale? In order to assist the owners’ daughters... And it is out of the question to remove the goddess: “Although she’s part of the family, her place is here” the fifty-year-old concludes. Not being listed, the bas-relief could potentially be destroyed, but Anne hopes that the future buyers “will succumb to its charm”, adding “I’d be very sad otherwise”… “It's a double-edged sword. It could help us sell, just as it could put off some buyers” the real estate agent admits. So what happens when a setting or a property, such as the Hôtel de Sagonne, in rue des Tournelles in the capital’s 4th District, is listed as a historic monument? For Emmanuel de Poulpiquet, manager of the Daniel Féau Saint-Paul agency, this “increases the price”: “It gives an asset nobility. However, when it comes to resale, it all depends on the potential buyer. Some will love a feature, others will hate it, and before you can touch anything, you will need the authorization of the architect of the Buildings of France (ABF)...” the expert warns.
He remembers an apartment located in the 4th District’s rue des Francs-Bourgeois where old painted walls were discovered. “It sold for maybe 5% more,” he recalls.
And Max Ernst’s former apartment in the 6th District’s rue Jacob was sold with a drawing by Picasso on a wall: “The sellers had left it. It wasn't listed, it was “just” part of the apartment.”