In a recent report by Bello Blog, it has been discovered that a rich socialite from Paris, Madame de Florian, had faithfully paid rent on her flat for 70 years without even visiting it. She fled Paris in 1942 during the second world war and never returned. It was not until her death in 2010 when an auctioneer decided to visit her estate and was completely shocked at the treasure he found.
“There was a smell of old dust,” said Olivier Choppin-Janvry who made the discovery. Walking under high wooden ceilings, past an old wood stove and stone sink in the kitchen, he spotted a stuffed ostrich and a Mickey Mouse toy dating from before the war.
Although it might seem strange, taxidermy was common decor in affluent homes in Paris during her time.
He also found a painting by Giovanni Boldini, the subject a beautiful Frenchwoman who turned out to be the artist’s former muse, la belle Madame de Florian herself.
When Mr Choppin-Janvry found a visiting card with a scribbled love note from Boldini, he knew he had struck gold. "We had the link and I was sure at that moment that it was indeed a very fine Boldini".
He finally found a reference to the work in a book by the artist's widow, which said it was painted in 1898 when Miss de Florian was 24.
The starting price for the painting was €300,000 but it rocketed as ten bidders vyed for the historic work. Finally it went under the hammer for €2.1 million, a world record for the artist.
The rest of the estate is filled with dust and has been undisturbed since. It is not open for public viewing and is owned by her estate.