Marthe de Florian was a French socialite and actress who fled to the south of France to escape war-torn Paris in 1942. She kept her apartment on the Right Bank near the Opéra Garnier, though, so that she might return when the war was over.
She failed to do so, and the apartment remained untouched until 2010, when an auctioneer entered it to appraise its contents. What he found was a time capsule, bursting with treasures.
The apartment was covered in dust, but its furnishings were perfectly preserved, including a fabulous taxidermied ostrich and vintage Mickey Mouse doll.
There even was a portrait of Madame de Florian herself, painted by Giovanni Boldini, and accompanied by a ribbon-bound stack of love letters from the artist to his subject. The portrait was sold for €2.1 million.
An entry in Boldini’s wife’s records confirm the identity of the portrait’s subject, dating it to 1898, when de Florian was just 24 years old.