PARIS (AFP) – A white shoe made of silk and goat leather that belonged to Marie-Antoinette, France’s last queen before the 1789 revolution, sold for USD51,780 on Sunday, the auctioneers said.
The 22.5-centimetre-long heeled shoe, roughly equivalent to a European size 36, is adorned with four ribbons and in good condition, apart from slight wearing of the silk, the Osenat auction house said.
With international collectors showing strong interest, Osenat said the price quickly rose from the reserve of USD9,450 to USD11,800 and was snapped up by an unidentified buyer.
The sale took place in Versailles, the town west of Paris that was once home to France’s royal court and where from her arrival at the age of 15, Marie-Antoinette enjoyed a lavish lifestyle.
In the turmoil of the French Revolution the shoe ended up in the hands of Marie-Emilie Leschevin, a close friend of the queen’s head chambermaid.
Her family held on to it for generations before it came to auction 227 years after her death. Marie-Antoinette – born an Austrian archduchess – was the wife of Louis XVI.
“Let them eat cake,” she is often said to have responded when told that peasants were starving because there was no bread.
The royal couple was executed by guillotine during the Terror in 1793 but France continues to be fascinated by Marie-Antoinette.
Last year an exhibition at the Conciergerie, the former Paris prison where she was incarcerated before execution, retraced changes in the representation of the country’s last queen through paintings, mangas, films and even Barbie dolls.
The Versailles palace, including the Grand Hall of Mirrors, and its grounds remain a major tourist attraction.