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Madame Aillaud’s brass polymorphous cat would have been worth the price of admission alone, but of course Charlotte and her architect husband Emile were not in the habit of charging their guests for supper.

Of gargantuan proportions, measuring 11ft 6in (3.5m) long by 2ft (61cm) deep, this chimaeric scene-stealer was a hangover from the surrealist ’30s, commissioned by the Aillauds in 1968 from the animal sculptor François-Xavier Lalanne who had established his fame designing theatre sets and vitrines for Roger Vadim and Christian Dior.

Cocktails were dispensed from the interior of the fabulous animal, which was modelled in brass with a fish tail and folding wings. The pair of this creature was made by Lalanne for the contemporary art dealer Alexander Iolas, but its whereabouts are unknown.

The cat will be offered at Christie’s Decorative Arts sale in Paris on November 18, where it is expected to fetch €60,000-80,000.