This catalogue is fascinating, these items are a moving testimony of a failing utopia (it ended up in a bloodbath), as well as the symbol of proud people who decided to die as Men rather than to die as animals. They were poor people, suffering from a ruthless system that was exploiting them, exploiting their children and preventing them from ever escaping their condition. Their world was clearly divided between the haves and the haves-not and they definitely belonged to the second category. But they decided to stand against it. Regular French citizens nowadays owe them a lot for living this far better life—so, in a way, their fight was not useless.
Back to our catalogue: for the front cover, the auction house chose a striking poster published during “La Commune”. It is very explicit: “Shall We Hang Landlords? No more landlords, no more rent. Evil.” Ironically enough, the same catalogue ends up on a two-page advertising for an estate agency specialized in luxurious properties. If it communicates in these pages, it is because of the rich people who attended this sale to buy the remains of a poor man’s dream, “La Commune”. The ad shows two houses, one in Britain worth a million euros, the other one in Neuilly (one of the most expensive suburbs of Paris) worth 4.5 million euros. I slowly closed the catalogue, reading the explosive title again: “Shall We Hang Landlords?” Of course, we are talking about history. Of course, we are far from the days of “La Commune” and reality is often more complex than it first appears. Nevertheless, I could not help thinking that the poster displayed on the front cover might have ended up in one of these houses... and that some of these guys on the photographs would have gladly hung high the guys who buy their portrait today.