Art: Royal House of Cards

Louis XIV's labyrinthine palace at Versailles took 56,000 men, 9,000 horses and 20 years to build, and cost $100 million. But in recent years it has become increasingly apparent that King Louis' builders valued surface splendor above sturdiness. In 1925, John D. Rockefeller Jr. went to Versailles' rescue with $1,360,000, most of which was used to repair the 27 acres of roofs. Last week André Cornu, under secretary of fine arts, warned that unless the government can raise another $15 million for repairs* the palace may go to pieces without much further warning.

The chief reason for Versailles' sad state: inadequate gutters...

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