Last night witnessed an auction that utterly defied the current economic climate – however one which should come as little surprise given the caliber of work of offer: The private collection of Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, became the most expensive to be sold at auction, reaching more than $264 million on the first night of the 3 day auction, the New York Times reports.
Christie’s held the event at the Grand Palais in Paris, which offered a number of spectacular works that rarely see the light of market, including pieces by the likes of Matisse, Duchamp, Brancusi, Mondrian, Picasso, Giorgio De Chirico and James Ensor. More than 1200 buyers, dealers, collectors and wealthy art lovers took the opportunity to pitch for a piece of art history.
Matisse’s Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose (1911) realized a monumental figure of over $45 million, while Duchamp’s Beautiful Breath, Veil Water (1920) sold for $10.1 million, more than six times the estimate. A rare wood Brancusi statue, Madame L.R. (1914-18), originally owned by the artist Fernand Léger, sold for $33.3 million. It was also a good night for the Mondrian market, with a 1922 composition in white, blue, yellow and black selling for over $24 million. Tonight will see the sale of furniture, silver and Asian art.
Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s long-term business and personal partner, said in a brief interview that he was very happy with the results. He also explained the reason why he decided to sell something the pair had constructed together: “The day Yves Saint Laurent died, I decided this collection had run its course, it was something we created together.” He also declared that a portion of the proceeds will go to support AIDS research.
Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent