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Last Updated: Monday, 19 November 2007, 15:45 GMT
Eiffel Tower stairs up for sale
The staircase section outside the Hotel Drouot auction house
The stairs were climbed by Gustave Eiffel to inaugurate the tower
A part of the Eiffel Tower's iron spiral staircase is set to go under the hammer at an auction in Paris.

The 4.5m (14.7ft), 20-step section, which once linked the tower's second and third levels, is expected to fetch up to 30,000 euros ($44,000; 21,000).

It was one of 24 sections removed in 1983 to make room for new lifts.

The 324m tower, built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Universal Exhibition, is the world's most popular monument, drawing six million visitors a year.

It was the tallest building in the world at the time of its construction.

Collectors' item

The staircase on sale at the Hotel Drouot auction house was climbed by Gustave Eiffel to inaugurate his tower in 1889.

Built in 1887 by engineer Gustave Eiffel
The iron structure is 324m (1,063 ft) high
6.7 million people visited the tower last year

It may also be the last piece available to the public, as the other 23 sections have already been bought by museums and collectors around the world.

The auctioneer, Remi Ader, said it would be difficult to estimate what its sale might eventually raise.

"I said 20,000 to 30,000 euros ($29,000-44,000), but that's in theory because at that price I know that five, 10, perhaps 20 people are interested," he told the Associated Press.

"That is where the auction will begin. After that, it's hard to tell."

Potential bidders have been warned the staircase section weighs 700kg.

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