Sale of the 20th century: a playboy's Pop Art collection


Click to follow
The Independent Online

International playboy Gunter Sachs was friends with Andy Warhol and married Brigitte Bardot after showering her with roses from a helicopter. After his suicide last year, it has emerged that his art collection will be auctioned in London this spring.

Sotheby's yesterday announced it was to put almost 300 works of Sachs' collection up for sale, saying it was the "most remarkable and prestigious single-owner collection to appear at auction". The German-born millionaire dubbed one of the last "international men of mystery" shot himself last May at the age of 78. He left a note explaining he had "no hope illness A", believed to have been Alzheimer's disease.

The lots cover artwork from his 50 years of collecting, with a series of pieces by Warhol as well as Roy Lichtenstein and Salvador Dali that are expected to fetch a total of over £20m.

Sachs was also an accomplished photographer and documentary film-maker himself and a European bobsleigh champion. He eschewed the title of playboy, saying: "I would rather call myself a gentleman." But he once boasted of "never having worked a day in my life".

Sachs became a very popular figure on the Riviera and was often seen in the company of beautiful women, including Britt Ekland and Tina Onassis.

Cheyenne Westphal, chairman of contemporary art for Sotheby's Europe, said the collection "reveals his little-known side as one of the most visionary and influential collectors of the 20th century".

Sachs started collecting in 1959 after moving to Paris, where he became friends with artists including Yves Klein and Dali. Alongside works by these artists, Max Ernst, René Magritte and Yves Tanguy will be up for auction in May.

The heir to the Opel car dynasty met Warhol in St Tropez in the 1960s and would later put on his first large exhibition in Europe in his Hamburg gallery. Not a single picture sold on the opening night, with Sachs secretly buying half to save his friend from embarrassment. It was a great investment. Warhol's portrait of Bardot, Sach's second wife, is included in the sale. In 1966, Sachs had hundreds of roses dropped from a helicopter into Bardot's garden the day after spotting her in a bar.