Monday, February 09, 2009

Sale of the century

Christie's, Paris
Collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge
23 - 25 February 2009

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge are selling their monumental collection which includes paintings, furniture and works of art. The sale includes 700 lots from the rue de Babylone and the nearby Left Bank apartment on the rue Bonaparte to which Pierre Berge moved at the end of the 1980s.

The catalogue represents half a century of collecting by Berge and Saint Laurent. The first work of art they acquired was the portrait of Mme L.R by Brancusi. Pierre Berge said, "One has to understand that we were interested in all forms of art and that we never differentiated nor established a hierarchy between a Greek vase, a Limoges or Venice enamel, an African sculpture, a piece of art deco furniture, a Giambologna bronze, a Frans Hals painting, a Cezanne watercolour, a Duchamp ready-made, a Calder mobile, a Augsburg Vermeil cup or a canvas by Paul Klee, to cite just a few of the works in our collection. I have taken the decision to part with the entire collection, because in my eyes after the death of Yves Saint Laurent on June 1st 2008, it has lost the greater significance."

The five volume catalogue that Christie's have produced for this sale shows that this is no mere celebrity souvenir event based around bidding for mementos, its breath and its depth, and the pre-sale predictions of 200m euro - 300m euro highlights the importance of this sale. One sign that Christie's are anticipating huge interest is that they are holding the sale and the view not in their Avenue Matignon rooms but in the vastness of the Grand Palais, Paris's grand showcase space usually reserved for blockbuster art exhibitions and fairs.

The three day auction, to be held by Christie's in association with Pierre Berge's own auction house, will take place in Paris from February 23-25.

Above: Crucifix en cuivre champlevev 28.3cm high, estimate 12,000 - 18,000 euros.

Above: A 'Cobra' chimney set by Edgar Brandt, 1926 In wrought iron, comprising a coal brush and a shovel; the original poker missing, estimate 15,000 - 20,000 euros.

Above: A group of parcel-gilt white painted carved wood allegories busts representing the four continents. French, 18th century, estimate 200,000 - 300,000 euros.

Above: A 'Serpent' fire surround, 1913 The upper rail covered in snake skin, the base of semi-circular section in dinanderie with snake skin pattern, the two joined by a series of seven rods, estimate 30,000 - 50,000 euros.

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