Saturday, February 6, 2016

''The Pagoda of Paris:'' A Rare Visit

www.canon-europe.com: City Guide Paris
Paris is a city that loves black, white and gray—as if they were actual colors. Its men and woman, and its buildings all seem to wear the same uniform.

So when you come across a wall of color, you stop and take notice, especially if it's the red Pagoda of Paris. I work near this usually shuttered mansion, and dreamed of a peak inside. Last week, I was lucky enough to go on a private tour, part of my campaign to see the Paris on my doorstep at home and work.

The building used to be a typical, gray 19th-century apartment building until the Chinese businessman Ching Tsai Loo transformed it in 1925. He filled the place with antique and contemporary treasures from China. The world was just discovering China, and Mr. Loo had money and connections.

What Mr. Loo got away with couldn't happen today. In today's Paris, he wouldn't have been able to obtain a building permit! In today's China, he wouldn't have been able to take treasures of out of the country to show and sell.

Word has it that Mr. Loo isn't liked in China for exporting the country's heritage, but he argued that the country at the time was doing little to protect it. And that he was placing Chinese art in good hands.

After the Chinese revolution in 1949, Mr. Loo lost his connections and lived out the rest of his life, until 1957, at the Pagoda. The building fell into disrepair, and was purchased by Jacqueline von Hammerstein-Loxten in 2010, who renovated the interior, and rents it out for private events and shows. Mr. Loo's legacy continues.

If you happen to be in Paris in June, don't miss an opportunity to see inside yourself. The Pagoda will be open for an exhibition tied to Asia Week Paris that aims to assemble the world's foremost buyers and collectioners of Asian art. 

Note : La Pagoda, in the 8th arrondissement, is actually one of two pagodas in Paris. The other one, ''La Pagode,'' was built in 1896 and eventually became a cinema. Loss-making for many years and in need of repair, it finally closed its doors just last year.