Stolen Marquis de Sade’s Intercourse Manuscript, Insured by Lloyd’s, Returns to Paris

The Marquis de Sade’s scandalous and sexually graphic novel “120 Days of Sodom” has come back residence.

Written in prison in 1785 — just just before the French Revolution — and described by the Marquis himself as “the most impure tale ever told,” the original manuscript returned to France right after 3 decades in the hands of a Swiss collector, and will be exhibited this yr in Paris.

Stolen from the descendants of Sade in 1982 and offered to the Swiss erotic-books collector Gerard Nordmann, it was lately acquired for 7 million euros ($ 9.6 million) by a company referred to as Aristophil SAS, which buys ancient and beneficial manuscripts. The obtain ended a number of many years of talks with Nordmann and Sade’s heirs, with the company paying out them both. The item has been removed from Interpol’s list of stolen ar2rks.

“It’s a national treasure and it is now back in France,” Gerard Lheritier, the chairman of Paris-primarily based Aristophil said in an interview. “Neither the value tag nor the insurance estimate of 12 million euros reflects the worth of Sade’s manuscript. It’s invaluable. It’s historical past.”

The guide, from which the word “sadistic” is derived, tells the tale of 4 rich males who sequester themselves for 4 months in a medieval castle with their 42 victims, including male and female teens. They enlist 4 female brothel keepers to tell them graphic tales of their adventures. The women’s narratives inspire the men to carry out 600 abusive sexual acts and torture, which end in the slaughter of the victims.

The crescendo of horror of the book can make it barely readable, Lheritier mentioned. French author Jean Paulhan calls the guide the “Gospel of Evil.”

Parchment Pieces

The book’s genesis was in 1785 when the nobleman Marquis Donatien Alphonse François de Sade, was imprisoned at the Bastille in Paris. In his days in jail he secretly wrote the tale with the subtitle “The School of Libertinism.”

Sade wrote his novel on pieces of 11.5 centimeter parchment joined together to make a 12 meter-extended (39.4 feet) scroll. Before he was taken to a hospital in 1789, Sade hid the manuscript in his cell, the place it was located when the Bastille prison was ransacked.

The authentic manuscript is written in such miniscule script, it can’t be study without having a magnifying glass. It will be on display commencing September at Aristophil’s gallery at the Hotel de La Salle, Lheritier stated. The gallery is housed in an 18th-century, 18,300 square-foot mansion in Paris’s upscale 7th arrondissement.

The mansion was purchased in 2012 by Aristophil from the Carlyle Group. The business uses it to exhibit parts of its 135,000-massive collection, which contains manuscripts by Albert Einstein, a will of King Louis XVI and Napoleon’s letters.

Death Bicentenary

An additional current Aristophil acquire now back in France, Lheritier stated, is 1 of the early drafts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. His daughter purchased it in Los Angeles final yr for $ thirty,000 in “a modest Sunday auction.”

For the “120 Days of Sodom” meanwhile, the return to France marks a grand homecoming.

Banned by France until 1957 — although clandestine editions could be located in the 19th and early 20th century — Sade’s rehabilitation is nearly total in France.

The Marquis, who invested 27 years in jail, such as for sexual abuse, will be celebrated this 12 months, the bicentenary of his death.

By the end of the yr, there will be a Sade biography, a festival and an exhibition at the Musee d’Orsay that will incorporate his infamous manuscript.

Its return also ends a decades-extended legal battle.

Swiss Courts

Soon after the manuscript was identified in 1789, it was offered to an aristocrat named Marquis de Villeneuve-Trans and it remained in his family for 3 generations. Then in 1904 it was offered to a Berlin psychiatrist, who sooner or later offered it in 1929 to Sade’s descendants, the loved ones de Noailles, which published a constrained edition — with copies sold through subscriptions.

In 1982, Nathalie de Noailles, the heiress, loaned the unique manuscript to a bookseller buddy who stole and sold it for 300,000 French francs to Geneva-primarily based Gerard Nordmann, a renowned collector of erotic manuscripts.

The “120 Days of Sodom” was even exhibited in 2004 at the Bodmer Basis on the outskirts of Geneva.

De Noailles sought to get back the manuscript by court purchase in 1990. It failed after Swiss courts ruled that Nordmann acquired it lawfully.

Soon after her death and that of Gerard Nordmann, Serge Nordmann, Gerard’s son, created public his intention to sell the manuscript. De Noailles’ son Carlo Perrone, a member of Sotheby’s advisory board, sought to get it to donate it to France’s National Library. Nordmann refused to promote it to him.

‘See It’

Enter Aristophil. The business negotiated with the 2 sides before getting the manuscript this yr.

Aristophil funds its purchases and its 2 museums, in Paris and Brussels, by promoting manuscripts to shareholders who then collectively own the products — a legal program called “indivision” below French law.

Lheritier mentioned he flew “The 120 days of Sodom” in a personal jet from Geneva to Paris, in which it is now kept in one particular of the foundation’s 5 vaults in the city. Lloyd’s of London is the insurer of the manuscript, he mentioned.

Lheritier explained he desired to donate the Sade manuscript to the French National Library in 5 years. He said the Ministry of Culture has declined his offer. If the ministry classifies the manuscript as a Nationwide Treasure, it could signify a tax break for Lheritier’s Aristophil. The ministry did not respond to requests for comments.

The Nationwide Library is “very satisfied the manuscript is back in France and that its standing is now cleared,” its spokeswoman, Claudine Hermabessiere told Bloomberg.

Wherever its new home in Paris, Lheritier mentioned, he’s urging people to come consider a seem at what is a piece of French background.

“I really do not encourage men and women to read it, just to come see it,” he explained.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg.

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