They were left on bridges in Paris as tokens of affection. Now thousands of padlocks — many with lovers' names and messages scrawled on them — are heading to the auction block. The city of Paris says it's selling the famous "love locks" to benefit three charities that aid refugees.
The locks are being sold in nearly 200 lots, ranging from small clusters to complete fence grids from the Pont des Arts that weigh more than 1,000 pounds. To prepare them for sale, they've been mounted onto either cobblestone or wooden displays, along with a plaque that identifies their origin.
The auction's appraiser estimates that prices will range from 150-200 euros ($163-218) for a cluster of padlocks to 5,000-10,000 euros ($5,450 to $10,900) for a full portion of a fence.
The auction is slated to begin on Saturday, May 13, after three days of being on display at the gallery of the Crédit Municipal de Paris, the city entity that's handling the sale. Bids can also be made online, although it seems the auction page for the cadenas d'amour is not yet active.
The three beneficiaries of the auction are listed as Emmaus Solidarity, the Salvation Army (or, in French, the Fondation de l'Armée du Salut) and Solipam.
The auction comes nearly two years after the city of Paris announced a campaign to remove the padlocks from problem areas, saying that the tons of added metal were hurting the integrity of several historic bridges — a point that was underlined when a section of one fence fell.
Addressing the tourists who were seen as the main "lockers," the online No Love Locks campaign urged amorous visitors to say no to vandalism.
In place of the fence grids that were once entwined with metallic love tokens, the city has been installing Plexiglas panels. But those have now become a target for graffiti.