An auction selling 'love locks' removed from Paris bridges has raised €250,000 for refugees.
The auction was held yesterday evening at the Credit Municipal de Paris, in Paris’ Marais district, with the large sums taking even the auction’s organisers by surprise.
“I expected three times less," said organiser Bruno Juiliard.
“It is beautiful… that declarations of love can be transformed into an act of kindness and humanity towards refugees,” he added.
The auction raised a total of €250,000 which will go to three charities who are helping refugees: Solipam, the Salvation Army and Emmaüs Solidarité.
However, not everyone supported the auction with a small group of far-right activists briefly staging a protest.
The dozen young members of the French far-right group Generation Identitaire began shouting "Generation Identitaire" and "Money to Parisians, not illegals," and waving banners with the same slogans, before being quickly removed.
The disturbance did not deter organisers or bidders. Hundreds of people took part in the auction where 10 tonnes of locks, in bunches and on railings, went under the hammer.
The 150 lock bunches started at €200 each, and railings — with weights of up to 600 kilos, began at €7000. The first railing went for an incredible €17,000.
Emmaüs Solidarité director general Bruno Morel said his organisation would use the money from the auction to build children's play areas for its community centre in the Paris suburb Ivry-sur-Seine.
Lovers have been inscribing their names on padlocks in Paris for years, attaching them to certain bridges and throwing the key into the River Seine to affirm their love. But recently the city has been trying to prevent the practice after the bridge Pont des Arts collapsed under the locks’ weight. Some also considered the locks an eyesore.
Officials began removing the locks in 2015 and replacing the metal railings on the Pont des Arts with panels so no locks could be attached.