Red, the building planted at the corner of rue de Courcelles and rue Rembrandt displays its curved and pointed roofs in the Haussmannian landscape of the surroundings of the very chic Parc Monceau. The Parisian pagoda built by a Chinese art dealer instead of a mansion has intrigued Parisians since 1928. So much so that when it was rumored on the Internet that the confidential Asian art gallery was opening its doors to the public, moreover free of charge, people rushed to its sculpted doors. Since Wednesday, the organizers of the Asian Spring which is held until June 16 in Paris have seen an influx of curious people unhappy to be turned away.
“It’s a private event, entries are by invitation, you won’t be able to enter, there’s no point in queuing”, tries to make clear a security guard who lets in a few privileged people who show their credentials. “Yes, but on the Internet, I read that it was open to the public and that it was free! insists a local resident when a group of students begins to get seriously annoyed. This Friday morning, there are a good fifty of them hoping to finally discover this mythical and secret place. The day before, there were hundreds.
Guardian of the temple, Baroness Jacqueline Von Hammerstein-Loxten, who manages the place on behalf of her real estate company, remains all smiles to welcome art dealers, antique dealers and collectors with precious sesame. “I am really sorry that this bad information has circulated, I understand people’s disappointment but we are not equipped to welcome the public. Yesterday we let a few in but really there was never any talk of an open house. This place will never be open to the public, it is used for one-off events”, she takes the time to explain to us before letting us have a look in the rooms of the pagoda.
We then discover the wooden coffered ceilings, the silk hangings, the friezes inspired by the reliefs of the Han period, the Chinese lacquers and the international collections of Asian art exhibited on three levels in what is none other than the first Sino-French building in Paris.
We owe this UFO straight out of the Roaring Twenties to the dealer and collector of Chinese antiquities and Asian art Ching-Tsai Loo. In 1922, he bought this Haussmannian building before transforming it into an Asian pagoda in 1928. The facade was modified and repainted in red, eaves typical of Chinese pagodas were added. The “Loo house” became the museum of his personal collections until his death in 1957. Commonly called the Paris pagoda, the building remained in the Loo family until 2011. It now occasionally hosts private events as part of Asian art exhibits.