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Inside the Grand Palais, Collection Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Berge

23, 24, 25 February 2009 Grand Palais, Paris

It is with this post that I bid farewell to the legend Yves Saint Laurent. In February of 2009, the world watched as the private collection of Saint Laurent and Berge sold on the Christie’s auction block. It was an unprecedented global event breaking every record imaginable and grossing almost a half billion dollars. Although it was a huge financial success, I write this post with a heavy heart. This art represents the life they had together ~ the elation of a new discovery, the comfort of a familiar face. In yesterday’s post I quoted Madison Cox saying, “choosing paintings together was one of the strongest dialogues between Pierre and Yves, the discussion, the chase, the passion.”

Their collection may have moved on, but their legacy lives forever.

A pair of French carved wooden busts from the 18th century stand next to Frans Hals' portrait at Christie's auction house

first four photos from Time magazine online (Christie’s Images), below ~ text from Christie’s

Paris – The three-day sale of the magnificent Collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé at the Grand Palais, offered by Christie’s in association with Pierre Bergé & Associates auctioneers, realised in total €373,935,500 / £332,802,595 / $483,835,144. A remarkable 95.5% of lots sold by lot, and 93% sold by value. This historic sale set a world record for the most valuable private collection sold at auction, was the highest grossing sale in Europe on record, and set multiple world records for Impressionist and Modern Art, 20th Century Decorative Arts, Silver, Sculpture and Works of Art. One of the most exceptional and significant collections of art in private hands, it generated unprecedented interest from bidders throughout the world and the pre-sale estimates for both the sale as a whole and the individual works, were significantly exceeded.

An auction house employee stands in front of a 1904 tapestry by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones and a Roman marble torso of Mercury

Highlights of these exceptional and rare works of art, each with impeccable provenance, captured the attention of international collectors as they were exhibited by Christie’s, in association with Pierre Bergé and Associates, in New York, London, Brussels and Paris in the last four months. The spectacular public exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, a once in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this unique curated collection of art and to experience the evocative atmosphere of Yves Saint Laurent’s apartment at rue de Babylone, was viewed by over 30,000 visitors over 3 days (21-23 February), and over 1500 people gathered for each of the sales, held in a specially built saleroom, the largest in Christie’s history. The top lot of the sale was Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose, 1911 by Henri Matisse, which sold for €35.9 million / £31.9 million / $46.4 million. 16 works of art sold for over €5 million and 61 works of art sold for over €1 million. Numerous world auction records were set in each sale, and in almost every part of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé’s Collection, a tribute to their discerning eye for provenance and museum quality. The proceeds of the sale will go to the Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, created to prolong the history of the House of Yves Saint Laurent, and to a new foundation that will be set up for scientific research and the fight against AIDS.

A perfume bottle by French artist Marcel Duchamp carries an estimate of one million euros

below ~ Inside the Christie’s Auction of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé’s Collection, with Exclusive Photos from the Architectural Digest Archives (Christie’s Images), Text by Mark Ginsburg, Published July 2009

1. Constantin Brancusi $37,623,104

2. Jean Dunand (pair) $3,982,106

1. Gustave Miklos (pair) $2,249,523

2. Egyptian $403,496

1 to 3. Italian $109,576

4. James Ensor $6,436,600

1. Italian (18) $1,238,849

2. Attributed to Maison Bagues $128,139

3. Gobelins $712,886

1. Jean Dunand $32,228

2. Jean Dunand $29,005

3. Jean Luce $70,90

GRAND SALON, 1976

Architectural Digest shot the couple’s apartment in 1976.

1. Italian $109,576

2. Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann $202,393

3. Jean Dunand $418,966

4. Armand Albert Rateau $1,455,422

5. French (pair) $125,045

6. Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann $94,106

7. Jules Leleu $44,604

8. After Giambologna and Pietro Tacca (pair) $388,027

9. Pierre Legrain $589,130

10. Armand Albert Rateau $388,027

11. French $148,249

12. Eileen Gray $28,238,277

GRAND SALON, 1976

Architectural Digest shot the couple’s apartment in 1976.

1. Jean Dunand $81,731

2. Attributed to Pierre Reymond $137,421

3. Jean Dunand $125,045

4. Jean Dunand $66,261

5. Albert Cheuret $403,496

6. Sir Edward Burne-Jones $774,764

7. Alfred Porteneuve (pair) $155,984

8. French (four) $132,780

9. Ernest Boiceau $774,764

GRAND SALON, 2008

When Christie’s photographed the apartment in the fall of 2008, the grand salon remained mostly unchanged, although the walls were now lined with paintings.

1. Giorgio de Chirico $14,233,226

2. Augsburg $233,332

3. Fernand Léger $7,158,509

4. Fernand Léger $4,559,634

5. Augsburg $233,332

6. Nuremberg $148,249

7. 19th century $140,515

8. Fernand Léger $4,848,398

9. Thomas Gainsborough $2,827,050

10. Henri Matisse $10,623,677

11. Juan Gris $1,383,231

12. Probably Italian $47,698

SALON DE MUSIQUE

Hall of Mirrors

Saint Laurent and Bergé were patrons of art and design as well as collectors. In 1974 the couple commissioned a pair of mirrors from Claude Lalanne for the music room of their rue de Babylone apartment. Ultimately, 15 bronze mirrors with foliate motifs by Lalanne covered the walls. Visible through the space is a Roman torso in the entrance hall.

1. Claude Lalanne $94,106

2. Roman $1,671,995

3. Claude Lalanne (15) $2,393,905

4. Jean Dunand (pair) $808,660

BIBLIOTHÈQUE

Light and Bright

“There is a theme and a continuity to my collections. Of course, there are always fantasies, but it is the base that counts,” Saint Laurent told Architectural Digest in 1976. During AD’s visit, a Joseph Csaky bas-relief was on the fireplace.

1. Joseph Csaky $186,923

2. French $32,228

3. Vilmos Zsolnay $44,604

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Choosing paintings together was “one of the strongest dialogues between Pierre and Yves,” Madison Cox says, “the discussion, the chase, the passion.”  ~ Vanity Fair

In 1969, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge purchased a glorious home at 55 Rue de Babylone in Paris’s Seventh Arrondissement. For several decades the visionary pair amassed one of the largest private collections of art and antiques in the world. They collected what they loved and lived with what they loved..when others were following modernist trends, they were acquiring masterful pieces from the Art Deco period. Gutsy commissions from visual artists such as Andy Warhol, Francois-Xavier and Claude Lalanne, illuminated the couples foresight and incredible eye. They were, and still are, trendsetters in fashion, art, antiques and interiors.

There is a wonderful article from Vanity Fair, 2009 ~ a must read for those who want to learn more about their impassioned art collection and the evolution of their Paris home. Here is a short excerpt ~

“Far more influential than either Lalannes or Jacques Doucet on the manner in which Saint Laurent and Berge decorated their home was the iconoclastic Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles, whose wildly eclectic salon on the Place des États-Unis, intoxicated the couturier to the point of delirium. Recalls decorator Jacques Grange, “Yves said that the salon of Marie-Laure de Noailles was the eighth wonder of the world.” An intimate of the Surrealists—her husband, Charles, had financed Buñuel and Dalí’s scandalous 1929 film, Un Chien Andalou—the vicomtesse was by the late 1960s a bizarre, nearly forgotten relic of the vanished world Saint Laurent worshipped. Recklessly mixing the austere “nouveau pauvre” architecture of Jean-Michel Frank with her heirloom old masters, her souvenir postcards, and the work of her avant-garde protégés (Bérard, Cocteau), Noailles “was, like Yves, a devil spirit, a revolutionary,” says writer and photographer François-Marie Banier. “Yves did with couture exactly what Marie-Laure did with décor: breaking the rules by putting together things that have nothing to do with one another.” ~ Vanity Fair, Amy Fine Collins

above, photos by Pascal Chevallier for Vanity Fair

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yves saint laurent

One of my favorite documentaries is Yves Saint Laurent: 5 Avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris (2002). It focuses on the creative process and detailed construction of the artisan’s last women’s collection in 2001. I believe the film is the first of its kind, exploring the behind the scenes evolution of a couture collection. From the meticulous work of the dressmakers fitting the models to the final runway show, it is a journey worth taking. For me, it’s the quiet introspective moments in his Paris studio that make the film so compelling. Since its release in 2002, there have been many fashion documentaries to follow in its footsteps ~ Valentino: The Last Emperor, The September Issue, The Story of Fashion with Karl Lagerfeld, just to name a few. I applaud director David Teboul for his innovation and for inspiring so many in the world of fashion and film making.

above, photo from Yves Saint Laurent: 5 Avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris

In 2008, the design world lost one of the greatest couturiers of the 20th century, Yves Saint Laurent. The new documentary film L’Amour Fou by Pierre Thoretton looks at the heartfelt 50 year long relationship between the legendary designer and his partner, Pierre Berge. There is a fantastic interview with the french film maker on digitaldaze ~ here is an excerpt

“Digital Daze: So it was just out of sheer interest for their love story? Pierre Thoretton: Yes, I started making a film about the art collection they had purchased over years – but I soon realized that what made the most sense was them. The collection was all them, it was their oeuvre, it was an intimate reflection of their couple, not a demonstration of power or money. It was entirely led by their taste, by their desire to be surrounded by things they love.”

Theirs is truly a story of love, loyalty and beauty

above, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge

photos from the New York Times

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Chateau Gabriel

For 27 years, Chateau Gabriel was the country home of couturier Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge. The Chateau, an 1874 Anglo-Norman house, sits on the heights of Benerville, overlooking Deauville, and is nestled on 75 acres of forested land. The couple asked interior designer Jacques Grange to decorate the 9000 square foot home using inspiration from King Louis II of Bavaria (around Munich between 1869 and 1890), and from the decor of Luchino Visconti’s films (especially “L’Innocente” which was Saint Laurent’s favorite). The collaboration was a turning point for Grange saying, “of all the houses I have decorated, those I have decorated for Yves Saint Laurent are the most important part of my work”. I have included the story of Chateau Gabriel as told by Jacques Grange for Christie’s…who better than the designer himself to take us on this journey.

Chateau Gabriel

The story of Chateau Gabriel as told by Jacques Grange for Christies, July 2009

“When Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent acquired Château Gabriel, at Bénerville, an uninhabited, late nineteenth century neogothic mansion, with a commanding view over the bay of Deauville, they asked me to decorate it. This residence was simply waiting to be given a new life and the commission was most certainly a key moment in my career as a decorator. The very close relationship between us three gave to this project an exceptional dimension. All of Yves Saint Laurent’s decorative themes were quite meticulous; however I was encouraged to interpret them as I saw fit, in order to produce the best results. The main sources of my inspiration were the film sets of Luchino Visconti, more precisely that of “L’Innocente”, as well as the ambiance and atmosphere that were present in the numerous castles created by Ludwig II of Bavaria. The imposing ‘portières’ and curtains made from thick, opulent fabrics, formed a perfect contrast with the Napoleon III furniture and other unusual and fantastic objets d’art. This was indeed, quite similar to the way in which the Viscount and Viscountess de Noailles, the Rothschilds and Princess Mathilde, all decorated their properties, punctuated with an abundant use of plants and flowers, which rendered their homes both unique and enchanting. The living rooms all had a certain cinematographic and artistic quality to them, along with a mural representing Monet’s Nymphéas, with the decoration in the bedrooms inspired by characters taken from Marcel Proust’s A La Recherche du Temps Perdu. Two years later and after much effort to find extraordinary objects, driven by Pierre Bergé the house was finally ready. The park, which was designed by Franz Baecheler include both rose and Japanese gardens, a lake and a potager. Since then was added a checkerboard of topiary pushing up between sculptures of François-Xavier Lalanne. As I said to a journalist from the New York Times in 2005: “Of all the houses I have decorated, those I have decorated for Yves Saint Laurent are the most important part of my work”. Afterwards mentioning Château Gabriel I added: “I love this place. It is unbelievable, extraordinary. I would like to dismantle it all and spirit it away.” I do hope that each and every one of these pieces, which were chosen with such a fervent passion, will give to each collector, the same pleasure that they gave to us.” ~ Jacques Grange

In November of 2009, Christie’s auctioned off almost 1200 works of art and antiques from Chateau Gabriel.

Chateau Gabriel

Chateau Gabriel

Chateau Gabriel

photos are from luxury culture

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