Ever Dream of Drinking Like Hemingway? Now You Can, as Star Items From His Beloved Hôtel Ritz in Paris—and Its Bar—Go to Auction

French auction house Artcurial will host the three-day sale this month.

Archival photo of the Hôtel Ritz Paris. Courtesy of Artcurial.
Archival photo of the Hôtel Ritz Paris. Courtesy of Artcurial.

Dining at the Hôtel Ritz Paris in the early 20th century, guests were almost assured to rub shoulders with the cultural titans of the Roaring Twenties.

There, Ernest Hemingway penned notes for his novels and Cole Porter dined on decadent meals after performing. Marcel Proust famously sketched out passages of A Remembrance of Things Past while residing at the hotel in 1909. 

“It’s probably one of the hotels in the world with the most anecdotes,” says Stéphane Aubert, auctioneer and associate director of French auction house Artcurial.

“At the beginning of the last century, one could meet the famous Luisa Casati, an eccentric Italian aristocrat, and muse of many artists, who stayed there with her ‘pets,’ including cheetahs and a boa constrictor,” he says. “Coco Chanel lived there for part of her life, too.”

The Ritz Paris’ blue Marthe service, scenography by Laurent Buttazzoni © Charlotte Hess for Artcurial

The Ritz Paris’ blue Marthe service, scenography by Laurent Buttazzoni © Charlotte Hess for Artcurial.

Dining—and drinking—at the Hôtel Ritz Paris became an art form all its own. The hotel originally lacked a bar, but added one in 1921 to appease its tipple-happy American clientele, many of whom were in France to escape Prohibition. 

Now, a century later, those eager to capture some of the magic of that mythic era have the chance as Artcurial hosts “Ritz Paris: Arts of the Table & Arts of Living,” a three-day online auction (June 21–23) that will bring some of the hotel’s most fabled dining and glassware sets to the block. 

The sale follows on Artcurial’s successful 2018 auction of furniture from the Hôtel Ritz Paris, which achieved $9 million, more than seven times its sale estimate. 

Among the 1,500 lots are treasures including iconic “Marthe” limoges dinner services, which were designed by hotelier César Ritz himself. First produced at the end of the 19th century, the “Marthe” set is still in use at the hotel today.

Glasses from the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Paris, scenography by Laurent Buttazzoni © Charlotte Hess for Artcurial.

Glasses from the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Paris, scenography by Laurent Buttazzoni © Charlotte Hess for Artcurial.

Another rare offering: cocktail glasses from the Hemingway Bar, which was named after the hotel’s devoted client.

“The American writer loved the Ritz, he had made it his second home, met his friends there, and liked to party,” Aubert says. “Ernest Hemingway became a legend in 1944 as the first American to come and ‘deliver’ the Ritz from the occupiers. He celebrated the victory by drinking 51 Martiny Dry in a row, they say!” 

Whimsical surprises abound, too. In addition to dining ware and glassware, the upcoming sale includes peach-colored Ritz bathrobes.

“César Ritz chose the peach color of these robes because he believed it would enhance the complexion of women,”  Aubert says. “Collectors love this art of living that the Ritz carries on… and the auction is a unique opportunity to capture the Ritz spirit.”

Explore the auction at Ritz Paris: Arts of the Table & Arts of Living.”


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