Alex Bolen, the chief executive of Oscar de la Renta, planned to have his new store in Paris open around this week, just in time for the couture shows. He planned to have a presence in the city even if he didn’t have a show. He had it all figured out.
Then, last summer, in the middle of renovations, Mr. Bolen got a call from his architect, Nathalie Ryan.
“‘We made a discovery,’” he remembered her saying. On the other end of the phone, Mr. Bolen cringed. The last time he received a call like that about a store, their plans to move a wall had to be scrapped because of fears the building would collapse. He asked what, exactly, the discovery was.
“You have to come and see,” she told him.
So, gritting his teeth, he got on a plane from New York. Ms. Ryan took him to the second floor of what would be the shop, where workers were busily clearing out detritus, and gestured toward the end of the space. Mr. Bolen, she said, blinked. Then he said: “No, it’s not possible.”
Something had been hidden behind a wall, and it wasn’t asbestos. It was a 10-by-20-foot oil painting of an elaborately coifed and dressed 17th-century marquis and assorted courtiers entering the city of Jerusalem.
“It’s very rare and exceptional, for many reasons,” said Benoît Janson, of the restoration specialists Nouvelle Tendance, who is overseeing work on the canvas. Namely, “its historical and aesthetic quality and size.”
Boutique renovations, like most renovations, are often delayed. They frequently run over budget. But rarely are they delayed and over budget because a mysterious artwork more than three centuries old has resurfaced.
In the arms race for the most unique! most authentic! store currently underway, when only-in-person experience is what differentiates retail from e-tail, a cultural treasure surrounded by a puzzle straight out of a Dan Brown novel may be the ultimate accessory....MUCH MORE
Saturday, February 16, 2019
"The Treasure Behind the Wall: Something in the new Oscar de la Renta boutique in Paris was not what it seemed"
From the New York Times: