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Rare guitar given as a gift by Marie Antoinette expected to sell for $84,000

<i>Aguttes Auction House</i><br/>The guitar was created by Jacques-Philippe Michelot in Paris.
Aguttes Auction House
The guitar was created by Jacques-Philippe Michelot in Paris.

Hafsa Khalil, CNN

Marie Antoinette may be better remembered for her tragic demise than as a musician, but a guitar thought to have belonged to the ill-fated monarch is expected to sell for up to €80,000 ($84,000) when it’s auctioned later this week.

French auction house Aguttes lists the late 18th-century “Trianon guitar” as a rare type of instrument in a shape known as “en bâteau,” created in Paris by Jacques-Philippe Michelot around 1775.

Delicately detailed, the fruitwood body is decorated with ivory and ebony fillets, with an openwork ivory rosette depicting a pair of doves embracing on a temple of love.

“This guitar (is) exquisite both aesthetically and technically,” Grégoire de Thoury, Aguttes’ head of department and guitar specialist, told CNN on Tuesday.

“(It’s) a treasure of refinement,” he added.

While the auction house notes there is no documentation accompanying it, based on various historical accounts the instrument is believed to have been a gift from Marie Antoinette to one of her circle, the Marquise de La Rochelambert-Thévalles.

The auction listing includes evidence that the queen bought musical instruments for those within her inner circle.

“This guitar is the ambassador of a way of life dear to the Queen’s intimacy,’ de Thoury said.

The instrument was preserved by the marquise’s descendents, from her nephew Henri down to the present day.

De Thoury told CNN he hopes the sale will appeal to lovers of music, France and Marie Antoinette alike.

The “Trianon guitar” is on display in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France until Thursday and the sale will take place on Friday.

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