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Historic mansion with links to Chopin and Dali ravaged by fire

By John Lichfield Paris

Fire has ravaged a Qatari-owned 17th-Century mansion in the heart of Paris, whose cultural and historical connections range from Chopin to Brigitte Bardot.

Although the blaze destroyed much of the roof of the Hotel Lambert on the Ile Saint Louis, 170 firefighters who battled throughout the night are thought to have saved some of the building's treasures.

Amongst masterpieces known to have been destroyed are the murals painted in a bathing room in the 17th Century by Eustache Le Sueur.

"This is a serious blow for the city's historical heritage," the mayor of Paris, Bernard Delanoe, said.

Culture Minister Aurelie Filipetti said last night: "There has been grave, and in some cases, irreversible damage to an essential part of the heritage of Paris."

The building was designed by Lois le Vau, who went on to create the Palace of Versailles. The Hotel Lambert was briefly the home of the writer Voltaire and his mistress in the 18th Century.

In the following century, Chopin composed his 'Suite Polonaise' there.

In the 1960s the Parisian glitterati, from Salvador Dali to Brigitte Bardot, danced the night away there.

In 2007 the building was purchased by a brother of Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the former emir of Qatar. His plans to install car parks, air-conditioning and lifts generated a mammoth battle with Parisian conservation groups.

Conservationists accused the new owner of wanting to turn the mansion into the equivalent of a fortified "James Bond villa" in the heart of one of the best-preserved areas of Paris. (© Independent News Service)

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