PARIS: Six million people visited the “Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped” when the iconic Paris monument was shrouded in fabric as a posthumous tribute to artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, according to estimates released on Tuesday.
The monument, which towers over the famous Champs Elysees, was covered in twenty five thousand square metres (two seventy thousand square feet) of silver-blue recyclable polypropylene for three weeks in the month of September and early October.
It was the long-held dream of Bulgarian-born Christo, who died last year at age eighty four, and his late wife Jeanne-Claude, ever since they rented a nearby apartment in the 1960s.
The couple were renowned for wrapping huge public monuments around the world.
A third of the visitors to the wrapped Arc were foreigners — a sign of the gradual return of tourists to the world’s most visited city as the pandemic eased this summer.
The estimates were based on a combination of mobile phone and transport data gathered by city and tourism authorities.
The total beats the five million estimated to have seen “Wrapped Reichstag” in Berlin in 1995.
The couple also wrapped the oldest bridge in Paris, the Pont-Neuf, in 1985, though visitors were not counted at that time.
The Arc project was overseen by Christo’s nephew Vladimir Javacheff in coordination with the Pompidou museum and French authorities.
“It was a crazy dream and you have accomplished it, Vladimir. We give you infinite thanks,” said President Emmanuel Macron as he unveiled the surreal sight in September.
The cost of fourteen million euros (sixteen million US dollars) was funded by the sale of original artworks by Christo.
For Christo, who left sketches and photo montages of his plans, the vision was that the Arc would become “like a living object stimulated by the wind and reflecting the light”.
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