Update: The section of the original stairs from the Eiffel Tower in Paris sold for almost 170,000 euros ($190,885) on Tuesday, auctioneers announced, which was three times the initial estimate.
The well-heeled who visit Paris, especially to clamber up the legendary Eiffel Tower, aren't likely to purchase a keepsake from the merch stand after, especially when there's a chance to purchase part of the real thing. Such an opportunity has come to light in the City of Lights, by way of an auction that has on the block part of the original spiral staircase tourists used to climb as far back as 1889, when the world-renowned landmark first opened.
Parisian auction company Artcuriel, which has previously sold two other segments of the tower, will once again be presiding over anxious bidders gathering at the company's display area at the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysées. They'll be hankering for an eyeful of Eiffel, just like other high-rolling souvenir seekers did twice before.
How much the current section, measuring nearly 15 feet tall and containing 25 steps, will go for remains to be seen, although history might present a pattern. Previously, a different section of the Eiffel Tower stairs was sold for $593,000 in 2016. Three years earlier, another stair piece exited the auction house with a bidder who got it for $249,000.
The spiral steps that provided access between the second and third levels of the tower lasted for nearly a century, climbed by an estimated 200 million visitors before elevators replaced the staircase in 1983. Today, the cumulative tally of visitors registers at around 250 million, with some 7 million going to the structure annually.
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For those who missed the auction, pieces of the Eiffel Tower stairs are available for perusal at a few locations. Two of them are in Paris; one at the Musée d'Orsay and another on display at Cité des Sciences. Elsewhere in France, in the tiny village of Jarville la Malgrange, another section of the spiral relic can be found at the Musée de l'Histoire du Fer. Worldwide, the Yoishii Foundation gardens in Yamanashi, Japan, are home to a few pieces of the staircase as is New York's Statue of Liberty.
If getting a few steps from a world-famous historic attraction is a tad too rich for your blood, and if you're planning to be in Paris relatively soon, chances are you'll find some lovely keychains and fridge magnets at the souvenir stand.