Pétain's furniture makes €23,000

Pétain's furniture makes €23,000

Vichy France office furniture - originally taken from a Jewish family - sold to association which aims to clear his name

A DESK, a chair and two bookcases, used as office furniture by Marshal Philippe Pétain, have sold to the president of a body which defends his reputation, for €23,000.

The furniture, which originally belonged to a wealthy Jewish family, was requisitioned by officials of Pétain, who ran a collaborationist puppet government in Vichy, Auvergne after the fall of France in 1940.

The furniture dates from the late 19th Century and is in an elegant style typical of the start of the century. The original owners, from Strasbourg but with a holiday home in Vichy, had asked a local antique shop to keep the items for them to collect, but they had never been able to come back. It was one of many items taken by Pétain’s entourage as they scoured the south for items to furnish his offices.

After the war the owners reclaimed it, but their grandchildren decided to sell because they felt an aversion to it, according to auctioneer Anne Morel, who sold the items off in Saint-Dié, Lorraine.

The buyer, Hubert Massol, said: “We had been looking for his furniture for a long time. We didn’t know where it was and thought it had disappeared.” He added that finding it was “quite an emotional thing.”

The items are to be displayed in a private museum as part of a reconstruction of Pétain’s office, he said.

Photo:JJ Georges

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