A series of photographs of a long-abandoned Paris apartment has gone viral this week, and the story has a surprising Nazi twist.
It’s no wonder pictures of the chic flat inhabited by Marthe de Florian, a French actress and courtesan, have made such a stir. The images evoke a glamorous, gothic feeling, with lux paintings, furniture and cookery covered in cobwebs and dust. You see, the apartment has been abandoned since 1942.
That’s the year de Florian left Paris, fleeing the Nazis and leaving behind virtually every possession she owned. She would never return to the home, resulting in a perfectly preserved snapshot of World War II-era Paris. Or, at least as it was lived by the extremely wealthy.
Among de Florian’s possessions was a portrait of the woman done by famed artist Giovanni Boldini, which sold for $3 million after it was uncovered in 2010, the year authorities were finally able to get into the apartment and survey its treasures. Before that time, de Florian had continued to pay rent on the flat each month, though she never stepped foot in it again.
The intriguing woman died in 2010 at the age of 91, leading to the flat’s re-opening, which caused a few media headlines–even though the social media world seemed to just pick up on the tale a few days ago. Though the now famous portrait has already sold, the rest of the items remain in the family’s estate, reportedly under the care of de Florian’s granddaughter.
Little is known about the details of de Florian’s life, or whether or not she was Jewish–but the “woman in pink” is certainly getting a breath of new life. Author Michelle Gable recently finished writing a book of historical fiction inspired by de Florian and her mysterious apartment, called “The Paris Apartment.” It is set for publication in April.
Photo credit: Michelle Gable’s author website.