Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Stairway to Collector’s Heaven

Most tourists want to take something home from the places they visit, so they take photographs. Collectors hope to do one better and bring home a small replica of the buildings or monuments they visit. But how would you like to take home an actual piece of a famous landmark? Last November, a set of stairs from the Eiffel Tower was put on the auction block. Built in 1889 by Gustave Eiffel, the 1,024-foot tower was the centerpiece and entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle in Paris. To make room for new elevators, the staircase was removed in 1983 and cut into 24 pieces which were then auctioned off to museums and collectors. One section is on display at the tower, while others are owned by the Statue of Liberty National Monument and France's Musee d'Orsay. “Luminaries” of the time called it "useless and monstrous." Now, over 6 million people visit the landmark each year.The Dutch basketball team named "Eiffel Towers" won the bidding with $219,390, five times the asking price. The new owners plan to use the 14-foot piece of a winding iron staircase to 'promote the team.' I’m not sure what that means. Will they drag it around to their away games? Will the team pose for photos on it’s steps. I think it would make a great display surface for miniature buildings. Check out this video from "The Lavender Hill Mob" movie in which characters run down the spiral steps.

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