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Snapshot, 1959: A bottle of pastis and every Bugatti shines like new

Why invest a fortune in the restoration of an old Bugatti when a bottle of pastis (or two) will remove much of the legwork? The Canadian artist Jean-Paul Riopelle seems to have taken this philosophy in this amusing snapshot…

In Paris in the late 1940s, Jean-Paul Riopelle was regarded as a fun-loving bohemian – the ‘Wild Canadian’. Surrounding himself with other avant-garde artists such as André Breton, Alberto Giacometti and Samuel Beckett, his surrealist paintings were known far beyond the borders of the city. Look past the art and, as with most famed artists, Riopelle had many vices – alcohol and fast cars, among others. Throughout his life he owned many classics, including a number of Bugattis. In 1957, a Canadian journalist wrote about how Riopelle had torn recklessly through the streets of Paris in his Bugatti, helping you to understand the exuberant style of his paintings. Two years later, Life magazine’s photographer Loomis Dean captured this photo of the artist and a rather dilapidated Bugatti Type 57. We wonder if, after the accident, he’d converted it into a bar?

Photo: Loomis Dean/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images