The unique sell of YSL: Fashion king’s art auction

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The sale of one of the world’s best private collections could raise £267m

‘It’s magnificent, like stepping into Yves Saint Laurent’s home,” Roberto Dumont, an architect who had travelled to Paris from Brazil, said yesterday. “It’s an incredible collection to have accumulated over a lifetime.”

Mr Dumont was one of 30,000 people who will visit the Grand Palais, open until midnight yesterday and tonight, to see one of the greatest private art collections of modern times. Accumulated by the fashion designer, who died eight months ago at 71, and his close friend Pierre Bergé, it is being sold in a three-day auction, starting tomorrow, which is expected to raise ¤300m (£267m). It is so extensive that the cavernous Grand Palais was about the only space in the French capital that could accommodate it.

Even the five-volume catalogue of the auction is expected to become a collector’s item, with all 7,000 copies long ago sold out. But Mr Bergé is selling the 731 lots, which the couple collected together over five decades, “without regret and without nostalgia”. He said that since Saint Laurent’s death “there is no longer any reason for it to exist. It is only the collection disappearing. The works will find other collectors.” The collection, which ranges from the 1st century to the 20th, includes Picasso’s Instruments de musique sur un guéridon, expected to sell for ¤25m-¤30m, three Mondrians, Renaissance bronzes, Art Deco furniture and two Chinese figureheads.

Christie’s spent ¤800,000 transforming the Grand Palais, which has never previously hosted an auction, into 11 rooms modelled on Saint Laurent’s three-storey Left Bank apartment in Rue de Babylone, where he lived from 1972 until his death, and Mr Bergé’s apartment in Rue Bonaparte, to which he moved from Rue de Babylone two decades ago. The work of the interior designer Nathalie Crinière was praised by Mr Bergé as “extraordinary, simply magical … It’s a shame the exhibition will only last two and a half days.” He held a private view on Friday night, surrounded by luminaries from the art world and his ever-present companion, Yves Saint Laurent’s bulldog, Moujik IV.

Danielle de Charnacé, 21, a student in Paris, said: “His home was like no other: you would have a Matisse here and a Picasso there, a bronze beside an Art Deco table.” Yves Saint Laurent and Mr Bergé remained business partners, and continued collecting art together. Since becoming the sole owner, Mr Bergé has given a portrait by Francisco Goya to the Louvre and a tapestry by Edward Burne-Jones to the Musée d’Orsay. Proceeds from the sale will create a foundation to fight Aids.

Philippe Garner, the head of 20th-century design at Christie’s, said: “It’s one of those rare auctions that marks its own era and creates a reference long-term. The Saint Laurent collection is a homage to a great moment of creativity, Paris in the early 20th century. The basis of the collection is the birth of modern art.” Saint Laurent said in 2004: “I have always been passionate about painting; it is natural that it should inspire my creations.” His collection of Mondrian shift dresses, designed in 1965, brought art and fashion closely together. Seven years later, the designer and Mr Bergé bought their first Mondrian painting. “Yves and I were convinced that fashion is not an art, but fashion needs art to exist,” said his former partner.

After visiting the Zen temples in Kyoto in the 1960s, Saint Laurent began collecting antique Chinese art objects, including a red and gold lacquered Buddha, and in 1977 he dressed his models in kimonos and mandarin tunics for the launch of his perfume Opium. The former model Nicole Dorier, who directed the couture house’s catwalk presentations, said: “With every collection, there was an invasion of art, which mixed with his work to the point that he got under the artist’s skin, and at the end it was like two artists rolled into one.”

The collection has not been without controversy. China’s government went to court on Friday in an attempt to stop the sale of two Qing dynasty bronze sculptures of a rat and a rabbit head, expected to raise ¤8m each. Beijing says the works were plundered during the Second Opium War in 1860. The court is expected to rule tomorrow, hours before the auction is due to start.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

    Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

    Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

    £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

    £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital