Ritz Paris Tableware and Hemingway Bar Items Featured in 3-Day Artcurial Auction

Liz Catalano
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The Ritz Paris, long a landmark overlooking the Place Vendôme, will once again offer collectors a piece of its history in a series of Artcurial auctions. Held over three days and six bidding sessions, this sale of the hotel’s dinnerware will present nearly 1,500 lots in mid-June, 2020. Offering place settings, decorative objects, and other pieces from the Ritz tables, the event will feature items commissioned for its opening in 1898 and glassware from the iconic Hemingway Bar.

This June auction follows the success of a 2018 event, also presented by Artcurial. Following a four-year, USD 400 million renovation, the Ritz Paris sold 3,500 lots and 10,000 items that no longer matched the updated decor. While lots such as Coco Chanel’s desk drew attention, there was also a preview of the dinnerware now coming to auction.

“This sale will be the last chance to get hold of the symbolic universe that makes up the mythical Ritz Hotel Paris,” says Stéphane Aubert, an Associate Director at Artcurial and the auctioneer for this event.

The Ritz Hotel Paris. Image from Artcurial.
The Ritz Hotel Paris. Image from Artcurial.

With over 120 years of hospitality experience, the Ritz Paris has hosted countless celebrities and cultural figures. Known as the home of Coco Chanel until her death in 1971, the hotel was also a favorite of George Bernard Shaw, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Marcel Proust. Diana, Princess of Wales ate her last meal at the Ritz before her death in 1997. After the recent renovations were initiated by the hotel’s current owner, Mohamed Al-Fayed, the Ritz gained many technological advances and refreshed its definition of luxury. Collectors can now access many new-to-market items, including original pieces from the hotel’s culinary history. 

From the start, the Ritz closely aligned itself with the Parisian food scene. Auguste Escoffier, known as “the king of chefs and the chef of kings,” created the early Ritz menus. Today, the École Ritz Escoffier operates out of the hotel kitchen, allowing guests to take cooking classes in traditional French dishes. Escoffier is honored in this auction by several terrines inscribed with his name, available in sets of six.

One of the sale’s leading lots is a Christofle pastry trolley made with stained wood and silver plating. Several sets of Regency model flatware are available as well, including knives designed by Christofle and engraved with the Ritz Paris coat of arms. Trays, platters, and drinkware also bearing the hotel’s insignia will be featured during the first day of bidding.

Lot 560. Four water glasses, four wine glasses, and a water jug. Image from Artcurial.
Lot 560. Four water glasses, four wine glasses, and a water jug. Image from Artcurial.

Those looking to own a piece of the famed Hemingway Bar can view the catalogs for the second and third days of the auction. Sets of six crystalline martini glasses engraved with “Bar Hemingway Ritz Paris” are listed with estimates between EUR 400 – 600 (USD 430 – 650). This glassware recalls Ernest Hemingway’s lifelong affair with the Ritz, which he immortalized in his novels and memoirs. A small bar was named after Hemingway in 1994 and is now run by Colin Field, who was twice voted “Best Barman in the World” by Forbes

Visitors to the hotel today can enjoy a meal at La Table de l’Espadon (The Table of the Swordfish), also named in honor of Hemingway. Some of the items in this auction will be recognized from the Espadon dining room, where each plate matches the decor and atmosphere. Four Louis XV-style armchairs formerly used in the Espadon will be offered near the end of the sessions, listed with an estimate of EUR 600 – 800 (USD 650 – 860). These natural wood armchairs have a caned backrest and tree branch details. 

Other lots of interest include sets of plates, cups, and tea services in the Ritz Paris’ signature Marthe pattern. When César Ritz founded his hotel in 1898, he was supported by long-time clients who had patronized his restored Savoy Hotel in London. Ritz commissioned the Marthe dinnerware especially to impress his returning customers. Hand-decorated with a Louis XIV-style blue and gold border, Marthe porcelain was made by the Haviland factory in Limoges, France. The pattern was applied to a variety of tableware, including muffin plates and cloches, eggcups, and salt-and-pepper shakers.

Porcelain available in the sale. Image from Laurent Buttazzoni/ Charlotte Hesse for Artcurial.
Porcelain available in the sale. Image from Laurent Buttazzoni/ Charlotte Hesse for Artcurial.

Several of the other available porcelain patterns may be recognized by the hotel’s patrons. For example, the Ritz Club service was designed by Jean Boggio with golden flames on a bright red background. It decorates dinner plates alongside oil lamps, carafes, and pin trays. Vintage pink and green floral porcelain is also offered, with sets of 12 plates having average estimates of EUR 150 – 200 (USD 160 – 215).

Beyond the dining table, a selection of bed and bathroom linens will cross the auction block. Satin cotton sheets trimmed with white lace retain the spirit of the Ritz suites, while sets of bathrobes and towels are branded with its logo.

Many of the lots can be viewed in advance at the Hôtel Marcel Dassault on the Champs-Elysées. The presale exhibition, organized by interior designer Laurent Buttazzoni, will be held three days before the auction begins. Buttazzoni will style six different services, “… from the gourmet restaurant one to the room service plates.” He recently published a book on formal entertaining and Parisian dinner parties, and will here focus on linking the glamor of the Ritz to the at-home table. 

For more information on the upcoming auctions and to view the complete catalogs, visit Artcurial. The first session will begin at 04:00 AM EST (10:00 AM CEST) on June 21, 2020.

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