Before and After: Clients renovate historic apartment formerly home to Picasso’s mistress

With the help of Paris Property Group, one couple not only made their dream of owning a Paris apartment a reality, but were truly lucky to learn that their Paris property shared a common history with Dora Maar, French artist and longtime mistress and muse of Picasso.


After more than five years of deliberation and keeping up to date with the Paris real estate market, Canadian couple Rod and Sandra decided it was time to buy in Paris.  The pair turned to Paris Property Group as their real estate experts.

Setting out last December on a whirlwind house-hunting tour of the capital, the couple visited apartments of all shapes, sizes, and styles with Paris Property Group’s Jennifer Jomard.  After viewing a total of 30 apartments in 3 days, the pair chose a space that they would later learn was across the hall from Dora Maar’s former apartment. 

Dora Maar was a celebrated surrealist artist, specializing in photography, painting, and poetry.  Although she is most well-known as the longtime mistress and muse of Picasso, her impact on the arts over the years has been influential, especially for women. The Centre Pompidou even dedicated an eponymous retrospective to her this past summer, showcasing nearly 400 works from her collection.


The apartment

The charming period details of the apartment building and the studio itself resonated with the Rod and Sandra.  They were enchanted by the building’s elegant courtyard as well as the staircase leading up to the apartment.  Inside, they fell in love with the high ceilings and tall windows, which they later learned were often described in articles on Dora Maar and her apartment.

The Blakes made an offer on the space, which was accepted later the same day.  They signed the final deed of sale shortly after, having been able to negotiate skipping the promesse de vente stage with the help of Paris Property Group.  The pair officially became owners of their own little piece of Paris on January 17th, 2019.

It was during the signing of the final deed of sale that the couple learned about the impressive history of the building.  Dora Maar’s apartment was located just across the hallway from the couple’s studio apartment, on the same level.  The building itself is situated around the corner from rue des Grands Augustins, where Picasso’s lived in his apartment.



Any renovation project can be anxiety-inducing, and although Rod and Sandra were initially apprehensive about taking one on in Paris, they decided to go for it. 

Before heading back across the pond for the holidays, they met with several design architects and hired a contractor.  Before any work could begin, the designs had to be approved by the architect of the building to ensure they wouldn’t affect the structural integrity of the complex.  Although this initially caused some minor setbacks, the team was able to begin work on January 23rd, 2019, less than one week after the signing the final deed of sale.

Under the direction of Henry Personnaz, their general construction manager, Netchko Design took care of plumbing and electrical, while L’Atelier Luc Chevallier installed the sleek built-in cupboards and space-saving Murphy beds.











Buying and renovating a Paris apartment can be quite the undertaking, but Rod and Sandra say they “feel very fortunate with way the apartment and the whole process turned out and how [they] were able to see through a ‘diamond in the rough’ and make it into [their] petit bijou.”




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