Love letters from fans bundled with a ribbon. A Giovanni Boldini painting worth more than $2 million. Hairbrushes caked in 70 years’ worth of dust. All sitting right where the owner left them during World War II.
According to the Daily Mail, a time capsule of an apartment in Paris’s 9th arrondissement was discovered three years ago upon the 91-year-old owner’s death. She had fled to the south of France when World War II broke out, and it looks as though she never returned. Authorities found the once-elegant apartment in a cluttered, lived-in state, its brocade wallpaper faded and everything covered in cobwebs.
Among the abandoned possessions, one painting caught an expert’s eye: a luminous image of a flirtatiously posed young brunette with a slinky pink silk or satin gown spilling far down her shoulders. The expert suspected it to be a Boldini (the Italian was a friend of Edward Degas and a noted portrait artist in Paris in the late-19th century). But he had no proof – until he found, among the scattered papers in the residence, a love letter from Boldini to the actress Marthe de Florian, a French star at the turn of the century. De Florian was the apartment owner’s grandmother, and those bundled love letters were from her admirers, including one French prime minister.
Later identified as a 1898 Boldini, the painting eventually fetched more than $2 million at auction, six times its opening bid and more than any other work by the artist.
[Via the Daily Mail]