Sunday, 29 June 2008

Pawned Renoir sells at auction

A Renoir pastel by Renoir sold for 190,000 euros at an auction on Thursday by France’s oldest pawnshop.

Dated around 1881, "Young Girl Seated in a Garden," a 24 by 19 inch drawing, was acquired by an anonymous telephone bidder.

A household institution, the Paris Credit Municipal was set up in 1777 to offer the poor an alternative to the punitive interest rates of usurers.

Run on a not-for-profit basis in partnership with the city, it accepts everything from artwork to jewels or wine as collateral for short-term loans, for as little as 30 euros.

Ninety-three percent of all borrowers repay their loans in full and reclaim their possessions, the broker says. The remaining seven percent are sold to pay off the debt.

Most pieces such as the Renoir come from French aristocrats, according to Credit Municipal spokesman Vincent Vogt.

Located in the heart of the historic Marais district, the Credit Municipal acquired its nickname -- "Ma Tante" or "Auntie" -- when a son of the 19th-century monarch Louis Philippe pawned his watch and chain to cover a gambling debt, telling his mother he left it "chez ma tante."

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