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Businessman buys expensive piece of scrap

A Dutch entrepreneur with more than a bit of an Eiffel Tower obsession has purchased a rusty old staircase taken from the Paris icon for a lofty $219,600.
Image:  Erik Kurvera with the winding iron staircase that Gustave Eiffel climbed to inaugurate the monument in 1889.
Dutch businessman Erik Kurvers poses for photographers as he stands on a section of the winding iron staircase taken from the Eiffel Tower. Kurvers paid $219,600 for the 15-foot tall chunk of slightly rusting iron. Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

A Dutch entreprenuer with more than a bit of an Eiffel Tower obsession has purchased a rusty old staircase taken from the Paris icon for a lofty $219,600 — five times the original asking price.

"I'm very happy. We've bought a section of the Eiffel Tower," said Erik Kurvers, the president of a Dutch basketball team aptly named the EiffelTowers, after the hammer went down on his closing bid for the 15-fool tall piece of metal at the Drouot auction house in Paris.

In an interview, Kurvers said he had hoped to pay $29,000 and was prepared to pay as much as $117,000, but outbid all others because of what the piece symbolizes.

"It's not the money. It's more of what it means to us," he said.

Gustave Eiffel climbed the 1,911-step helical staircase to inaugurate the monument in 1889. It was removed in 1983 to make room for new elevators and was cut into 24 pieces that were auctioned off to museums and collectors around the world. One section remains on display at the Eiffel Tower, while others are owned by the Statue of Liberty National Monument and France's Musee d'Orsay.

The one auctioned Monday was the last one to be sold, according to the auction house.

For the 44-year-old entrepreneur, who also named his financial consultancy after the famous French architect, the name Eiffel connotes the pursuit of excellence.

Kurvers would not say exactly how or where the stairs would be used but insisted they would be well appreciated.

"It's a very special thing you can only buy once in your life," he said.

True, but we think this guy has an edifice complex.

Fido fragrance
Just in time for the holidays, a London firm has launched what it claims is the world's first perfume made especially for dogs.

Mungo & Maud's Petite Amande eau de toilette sells for $78 a bottle, reports the Daily Telegraph newspaper. There is even a matching $33 dog shampoo, for the pet who likes to co-ordinate its fragrances.

Mungo & Maud spokesperson Nicola Sacher was quoted as saying: "For some time we had wanted to create an original fragrance for dogs made with refined ingredients that wouldn't overpower the senses. A scent that would refresh the dog and appeal to the human nose too."

The company hired well-known perfumer Lyn Harris to come up with the perfume, which features French blackcurrant, Tunisian neroli, mimosa and violet leaf on a base of sweet vanilla bourbon with a little almond.

OK, but we dare you not to spray this stuff into your dog's mouth.

Shocking chocolate
An Italian candy shop owner has been fined after making chocolate copies of a local porn star's proudest asset.

Bologna police told Teresa Conti, 40, to melt down the confectionery version of blue movie actor Rocco Siffredi's tool of his trade, the Ananova Web portal reported.

They said numerous passersby with children had complained of the candy organs on display in the window.

She was fined $308 for promoting indecency.

Conti said: "I only did it to get one up over my rivals and the displays in their chocolate shops."

We hope that she advertised them as Randy Candy.