A charity auction selling off "love locks" from Paris bridges to raise money for refugees on Saturday brought in over $270,000, though the event was briefly interrupted by protests from far-right nationalists. About 10 young men shouted "Illegal immigrants out!" and identified themselves as being members of the far-right, pan-European Identitarian movement, which advocates ethnic nationalism. They unveiled a banner with the same slogans. The men were removed from the room at the city's Municipal Credit Institute by security personnel and the auction continued. Hundreds of people took part in the auction at Credit Municipal de Paris in which 150 bunches of the locks -- mounted on displays of wood or recycled paving stones, or hanging from acrylic stands -- went under the hammer.
Fifteen sections of the original Pont des Arts railings mounted on wood were also auctioned.
Most of the lots had been expected to go for 150 to 200 euros each ($165-$220) but one set of locks fastened to a replica of the Eiffel Tower mounted on a display of recycled paving stone -- called the "French Lover" -- sold for 2,400 euros. Another display with 22 locks went for 1,200 euros, one with 17 for 1,000. But the most expensive piece -- a section of the Pont des Arts railing that weighed 470 kilograms (1,000 pounds) -- sold for 17,000 euros. Other sections of the bridge went for between 3,500 and 12,000 euros.
The auction raised a total of 249,610 euros ($273,000), which will go to three associations helping to accommodate the influx of migrants into the city: Solipam, the Salvation Army and Emmaus Solidarite. The tradition of lovers attaching locks to the city's bridges was initially seen as relatively harmless but became a menace later after the Pont des Arts incident in 2014. It also turned into an eyesore for many residents. The city began removing the locks in 2015 and replaced the metal railings on the Pont des Arts with acrylic glass panels to ward off the public displays of affection.
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