Have you ever wondered what the Eiffel Tower is worth? The answer might surprise you!
In 1887, engineer Gustave Eiffel built a metal tower in Paris to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. At that time, it was considered one of the most spectacular buildings in all of Europe and quickly became a symbol of France’s technological ingenuity and modernity. But after just 20 years of standing tall over Paris, its popularity waned.
By 1900, it had been abandoned by tourists because they considered it too expensive to climb up all those stairs! It seemed like this magnificent monument was going to be torn down soon when an entrepreneur named Charles-Toussaint Lafarge came along with an idea: sell scrap metal from the Eiffel Tower to be melted down and turned into useful objects.
The Great Idea
Lafarge had no idea how much the Eiffel Tower was actually worth, so he decided to conduct a little test. He went up to the tower during one of its many renovations and asked a construction worker if he could have some iron scraps as decoration for his home. The worker obliged without a second thought, and for the next few decades, Lafarge decorated his home with Eiffel Tower scraps.
Satisfied that he’d found a valuable resource, Lafarge began selling scrap metal from the tower to anyone who wanted it. Instead of recycling pieces back into new objects, Lafarge charged for every pound of metal removed from the tower. The Eiffel Tower was in such a poor state that it hardly mattered, and Lafarge started earning a little money from his resource.
In just 20 years after its construction, the Eiffel Tower had fallen into disrepair and become an unpopular tourist attraction. Following this decline in popularity, Charles-Toussaint Lafarge turned the Eiffel Tower into a valuable source of scrap metal.
Here’s the crazy part: Lafarge sold the same scraps twice! The tower was so well known that people mistook his home decorations for pieces left over from construction and paid him to take them off their hands. During these decades, he made millions by selling the same scraps of metal to different people. Lafarge made so much money from the Eiffel Tower that he was able to move into a lavish house and purchase several country estates.
He also bought other businesses and became one of France’s wealthiest citizens! When Lafarge died in 1920, his sons continued selling scrap metal from the tower until it was completely demolished in the 1930s.
Today, some of Lafarge’s leftover decorations are still on display at Paris’ Musée Carnavalet!
Wow! Who knew the Eiffel Tower was so valuable? That would be one heck of a park to visit… if it weren’t for all those stairs. But well done, Grandpa Lafarge. We hope your sons turned out well-behaved!
But did you know that this isn’t the only scam with the Eiffel Tower?