The Interesting Story of Madame Marthe de Florian and Her Abandoned Apartment

An apartment has been discovered in Paris that had not been touched in 70 years. Marthe de Florian was reportedly the apartment’s owner during The Gilded Age.

The apartment was discovered in France near the Pigalle Red Light District (where Moulin Rouge is located), in the ninth arrondissement. Arrondissement essentially translates to “district.”

The Interesting Story of Madame Marthe de Florian and Her Abandoned Apartment

So what is all the buzz about? Once the apartment was opened, a stunning original painting by Giovanni Boldini was discovered. And his muse? Marthe de Florian.

Marthe de Florian was an actress and a demimondaines or an elite prostitute. In history, they have been known for their drinking, gambling, and excessive spending. They were also always decorated in the highest of fashion and usually kept the company of many well-known and wealthy lovers.  

The painting was then identified as being an original Boldini, who was known as the “Master of Swish” for his flowy style, and it collected a whopping  2.1 million pounds (or $3,454,080 USD) at auction.  

And due to love letters being discovered in the apartment from Boldini to de Florian as well as a reference to the painting by Boldini’s widow in an old memoir, historians pieced together that the woman in the painting found in the apartment was indeed Marthe de Florian.

Born Mathilde Heloise Beaugiron, Marthe de Florian arrived to this world on September 9, 1864, in Paris.

According to records from 1882, she was a seamstress at 18. She did not marry and allegedly, had two sons. One of her son’s names was Henri and he passed in 1883 at just ones years old. The following year, she had another son named Henri and he lived until 1966.

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It is believed he may have fathered a daughter named Solange Beaugiron.

So how did this apartment stay locked up for seventy years?  Well, there is some mystery here, and I have not been able to decipher what exactly happened, but here’s what I know.  

The apartment had been passed down to the granddaughter of Marthe de Florian and she lived there until 1942 when the Nazis invaded Paris.

And while the granddaughter never returned, she continued to pay for the apartment until her death at the age of 90 in 2010.  

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The apartment was deeded to her estate, and when some evaluators were sent to survey the real estate, they discovered the space untouched since World War II. It was said to smell of “old dust,” and was filled with exotic taxidermy.

So why err how exactly did the name of the granddaughter that kept ownership of the apartment’s name got lost in translation?

France reportedly has very strict family privacy laws, however, it is speculated the woman’s name is Solange Beaugiron, remember her?

As the mysterious place belongs in the de Florian/Beaugiron estate, it still exists somewhere in Paris, securely sealed, left exactly as it was found when it was opened for the first time in nearly seventy years in 2010, she had paid for it all of these years. And while the Boldini painting has been sold at auction, everything else remains there, untouched and “smelling of old dust”.  Currently, there are no plans to open it to the public.

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