AFP

PARIS-For over 40 years since his death in 1972, French entertainer Maurice Chevalier’s 15-room mansion near Paris remained untouched. Now, following the death of his last companion, Odette Meslier, the star’s personal belongings including his trademark straw boaters have finally been sold at auction. Best remembered for songs such as “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” and “I Remember it Well”, the singer and actor was one of his country’s best known exports to Hollywood.

Meslier, a 1950s music hall dancer, maintained the house just as it had been on the day he died in January 1972 at the age of 83. In an elegant drawing room, framed photographs and mementos from his long career in show business stood atop a grand piano while in the hall a collection of walking sticks remained just as he left them. Books, records, furniture, even the crooner’s Mercedes car, bed and dressing gown were among the items sold on Monday in Paris by auctioneers Digard and Pestel-Debord.

One straw boater fetched 5,146 euros ($7,060), while his 1950s platinum watch was sold for 25,157 euros and the Mercedes went for 13,723 euros. His shaving brush and razor fetched nearly 1,000 euros. “I have always been a fan and I just could not miss this sale,” said one bidder, a retiree who was tempted by a boater but had to pull out as the price rose far above its original estimate.“Odette Meslier left everything as it was, like a sanctuary, like a museum, everything was left in its place,” said auctioneer Vincent Pestel-Debord. The Chevalier family decided to sell the house and auction off most of its contents following Meslier’s death in May 2013. Edith Piaf, Judy Garland, Richard Burton, Marlene Dietrich and Romy Schneider were among the stars who visited it.