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The Louvre in Paris.
Photo: Wikimedia commons

Once-in-a-Lifetime Experiences at the Louvre You Can Bid On Now

An auction offering extraordinary moments, such as a candlelit evening at the museum or a private tour of the rooftops with JR, supports new education initiatives

Joconde by Héloïse Becker. Photo: Héloïse Becker

An intimate moment with the Mona Lisa? A candlelit evening at the Louvre after-hours? These are just a few of the extraordinary experiences that money (usually) can’t buy but are now being made possible thanks to a new charity auction, “Bid for the Louvre,” on sale from December 1 through 15.

Hosted by Christie’s with the support of the Hôtel Drouot, the unprecedented sale was created to aid France’s most significant museum, as lockdowns and travel restrictions have caused a steep decline in funds usually received from admission fees, restaurant patrons, and bookstore.

The proceeds from the auction, a first for the institution, will finance the future Louvre Museum Studio, a new 106,000-square-foot space dedicated to artistic and cultural education that is slated to open in the fall of 2021. Its mission is to welcome families, students, disabled people, and other marginalized groups.

Nuit Magique by Héloïse Becker. Photo: Héloïse Becker

“This period of pandemic, which is hitting the most vulnerable in society first, makes this project even more necessary,” says Jean-Luc Martinez, president and director of the Musée du Louvre.  The president of Christie’s France, Cécile Verdier, adds “Everyone has been able to understand the difficulties that the pandemic has created for cultural institutions, and the Louvre is no exception. Thanks to the funds raised by this sale, promoting the Louvre’s activities for audiences unfamiliar with museums is all the more meaningful in these troubled times.”

Some of the standout offerings include a private reception with the Mona Lisa (€10,000–15,000). Accompanied by Martinez, the winner and a guest will attend the annual examination of the world’s most famous painting.

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With an average of around 15,000 people arriving to see the collections every day, why not escape the crowds and have the masterpiece-filled halls of the museum all to yourself by torchlight? It’s possible now, with bids starting at €10,000. Another unforgettable gift would be a date night on roof of the arc of the Carrousel, which was designed and built by architects Charles Percier and Francois Fontaine between 1806–08 to celebrate the victory of Napoleon. (€5,000–7,000). You could also see the museum through the unique lens of an artist, thanks to a tour of the rooftops in the company of JR, one of Galerie’s Creative Minds, who transformed the entrance of the museum last year into a dazzling optical illusion that imagined the iconic I.M. Pei–designed pyramid expanding underground.

La Rose du Louvre by Jean-Michel Othoniel is also up for auction.

Luxury brands also rose to the occasion, coming up with some unique offerings. Vacheron Constantin, for example, gifted timepieces from its new Les Cabinotiers collection, allowing the winning bidder to choose a piece of art from the museum to be reproduced in miniature, with enamel, on the dial. Among the other lots are a Cartier Panthère bracelet that includes a trip to see the crown jewels, a private visit to the Tuileries gardens followed by a tour of Christian Dior’s storied archives, and a culinary-themed museum visit that ends with a pastry-making lesson from François Perret at the Ritz Paris.

Concert de Rois by Héloïse Becker. Photo: Héloïse Becker

In addition, a slew of contemporary artists who have a relationship with the museum, including the 100-year-old French painter Pierre Soulanges and glass artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, have also donated works to the cause. Says Martinez, “The art community and those luxury brands with close ties to the Louvre responded instantly to our call for help.”

“Bid for the Louvre” runs from December 1–15.

Cover: The Louvre in Paris.
Photo: Wikimedia commons

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