French poet Arthur Rimbaud’s manuscript makes $302,000

Christie’s auctioned a collection of items relating to celebrated French poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) in a sale in Paris yesterday.

The highlight was his original handwritten manuscript for La Riverie de Cassis (1872), which achieved $302,293.

Arthur Rimbaud poem

Rimbaud wrote La Riverie de Cassis in London in 1872

Rimbaud wrote this copy for fellow poet Paul Verlaine, during the drink and drug addled years they spent living in London.

Rimbaud became romantically involved with the much older Verlaine when he was just 17. They travelled to London together (Verlaine left behind a wife and child) where they spent a year writing together and getting catastrophically drunk.

Verlaine would return to France after an argument in 1873.

When Rimbaud met up with him later that year, Verlaine famously shot him through the wrist with a handgun.

That gun sold for $467,109 at Christie’s last year.

Despite being one of France’s most celebrated poets, Rimbaud actually stopped writing altogether when he turned 21.

He went on a long journey around the world, finally ending up in Harar, Ethiopia – where he became a successful coffee merchant.

He contracted bone cancer at 1891 and travelled back to France, where he died at the age of 37.

His short life, combined with the fact that he ceased working so young, ensures that memorabilia associated with him tends to sell for significant sums at auction.   

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