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Sale of mime's items stirs backlash

A PLANNED sale of costumes, books, art and a battered old hat left by France's Marcel Marceau, one of the world's most famous mime artists, has caused an uproar among fans fighting to keep his legacy intact.

A Paris court ordered the auction to pay off debts left by Marceau, who spent his money on theater productions and went bankrupt before he died aged 84 in 2007.

But Marceau had wanted the French state to preserve his belongings and transform his house into a cultural space for troupes from all over the world, said his former assistant Valerie Bochenek.

"A man who for 60 years carried the French flag out into the world deserves to have his legacy and his archives preserved," Bochenek said yesterday.

In the character of Bip, a clown who opened invisible doors, became trapped in invisible cages and danced the tango with invisible pickpockets, Marceau charmed audiences and inspired generations of entertainers.

Together with other fans and colleagues, Bochenek has launched a last-ditch appeal for donations to buy as many items as possible and display them in a museum.

Their aim is to gather 100,000 euros (US$139,700) before tomorrow's sale.


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