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A Look Back...From BarterNews Archives...Issue #8

Famous Eiffel Tower Restaurant Traded

The mammoth task of putting its more than 11,000 pieces back together is enough to keep its owner awake nights. Disassembled and tucked away in a warehouse in New York City is the restaurant that once perched 562 feet above the streets of Paris on the first level of the Eiffel Tower.

"It's got to be the world's biggest jigsaw puzzle in the world's biggest box," says Moreton Binn, the restaurant's new owner. "If anybody wants to do puzzles, its' an 11,000-piece puzzle of steel and glass and chrome. I get up in the middle of the night with the shakes when I think it has to be put together again."

Binn's corporate barter company, Atwood Richards, moved the Eiffel Tower Restaurant across the Atlantic by ship under a cloak of secrecy rivaling some operations of the French underground during World War II. It hopes to reassemble the landmark somewhere in the United States and turn it into a prime tourist attraction.

The restaurant—whose patrons ranged from King Farouk of Egypt to actress Brigitte Bardot, and included hundreds of thousands of American tourists as well—was ordered taken down by the French officials after they found that the Eiffel Tower was sagging from too much weight. The tower was closed and renovations to strengthen it are under way.

How do you remove a restaurant from one of France's most famous landmarks? Gingerly. Each piece was numbered, photographed, even authenticated by a notary public. Sections were videotaped to ensure that they would be reassembled correctly.

"It was a very difficult job. You are not just backing a truck up to something. Every time you took a beam down, it had to be takendown 600 feet. You had to use the existing lift facilities and shafts, which made it more difficult."

The restaurant arrived in the United States as part of a two-step arrangement. In the first deal, Georges Lancelin, a Paris businessman, acquired the restaurant and had it disassembled over 3-1/2 weeks. Lancelin wanted to reopen the restaurant in Paris, but municipal officials ruled that it would compete with three new restaurants planned for the tower.

Lancelin then traded the restaurant's parts to Binn. In exchange, the Paris businessman received steel, construction equipment, material for nets to catch falling debris at building sites, and marketing expertise for his business, Lacapose France.

Binn planned to barter the restaurant to a hotel chain, perhaps for rooms, food and beverages for the next five years...or to a themepark.

The new home of the famous Le Restaurant de la Tour Eiffel is Louisiana, located across from the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans.