The auction of La Tour d’Argent

by Abdon FLORES

A particular auction took place on May the 10th in Paris: the famous restaurant La Tour d’Argent put up for sale 3000 objects comprising 100 pre-Revolution bottles, tableware, furniture, ornaments, and special culinary artifacts. Renewal is under way for this venerable establishment founded in 1582. Among the items was included a silver press made by the house Christofle, an object designed to prepare one specialty of this gastronomical temple: the Cannard au sang (Pressed duck), an exquisite dish that, once ordered, it is prepared before the client and numbered like a wine bottle.


can tour

Frédéric Delair, ca. 1890.


The auction was organized by Artcurial, the house in the Rond Point specialized in art and luxury objects. Most of the 670 lots found a buyer making of the auction a success (725,000 € raised.) A cognac bottle Vieux Clos de Griffier-Cafe Anglais 1788 was sold by 26,000 €, while two other reached the 23 thousands. Although the star was the precious press by Christofle which reached a terrific price: 40,200 €. Important to notice is that it remained in French territory since it was bought by another traditional and emblematic restaurant, Les Grands Buffets de Narbonne.

According to Louis Privat, director of the Languedoc-Rousillon restaurant it was easing to win this bidding. “We were afraid the press could be bought by someone abroad.” he declared afterwards. “Now, we can propose to the Grands Buffets clients the ritual of cannard au sang; until now, it was only a privilege of palaces and high gastronomy places.” He might be right given that preparing the pressed duck involves an old savoir faire dating from 1890, when Frédéric Delair, re-founder of La Tour d’Argent, invented this elaborated dish.