When the Nazis marched on Paris in 1939, many of people fled their homes and headed south. The vast majority of these families would never see their houses and belongings again, their family memories lost to the ravages of World War II.
But now, decades later, one family has been given the opportunity to reclaim their home and legacy. Years after her passing, the family of Madame De Florian discovered that she been paying rent on the very same Paris apartment that she had fled when she was young.
Someone was immediately sent to inspect the property, and what they found shook them to the core. It might just change the way that people think about history…
Madame de Florian was just 23 years old when she fled her Paris home in 1939. Few people would ever want to leave their home, but these were some extreme and desperate circumstances that left her with no choice.
The German military, under Nazi rule, was advancing upon the city, so many Parisians, including Madame de Florian, had no choice but to leave everything behind and quickly find somewhere safer to live.
Madame de Florian luckily made her new home in the free zone outside of Nazi-occupied France, but she never returned to her old apartment ever again. It must have seemed like no one would ever go back there…
It wasn’t until Madame De Florian’s death in 2010 that her family discovered that she had still been paying rent on the apartment her entire life. With that in mind, the family was still technically entitled to it.
An auctioneer, Olivier Choppin-Janvry, was sent to inventory her abandoned home, and what he found was beyond the family’s wildest dreams. Inside the apartment, they discovered priceless art and many other items that offered a very rare glimpse into the past.
Madame de Florian’s vanity, for example, still waited for its owner to make her triumphant return, as it remained perfectly intact with lotions and potions of all sorts. She must have spent a lot of time there! Yet there was so much more to come…
A vintage Mickey Mouse doll kept a stuffed Porky Pig toy company in one corner, waiting for some innocent children to return for them. Unfortunately, though, no child ever did come back to play with them…
Another abandoned item was this stunning Belle Epoque-era painting of Madame de Florian’s mother, Marthe, which was painted by the legendary Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. He died in 1931, just two years before Hitler came into power and the Third Reich began.
This amazing painting of Giovanni Boldini himself ended up selling for roughly $3.4 million at an auction. The juicy revelation that he and Marthe had once been lovers strengthened interest in the piece even more!
This entire apartment is a lovely and haunting monument to a bygone era that was tragically ripped away as a vicious occupying force. Luckily, the Nazis were defeated, but the damage had already been done.
If you want to see this incredible piece of history in all its glory, you can take an in-depth tour of the apartment here. It’s really remarkable that so many breathtaking artifacts were found in such a relatively small space!
That was like stepping into a time capsule. The old world really was beautiful wasn’t it? It’s such a shame that the war destroyed so much of it.
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