Late fashion guru Yves Saint Laurent was a life-long slave to fashion and style, and his obsession was reflected in everything he sought, from his couture designs to his furniture.
Collectors signaled their approval with his taste by paying $13.22 million, three times the auction house estimate, in the latest sale of his possessions, according to New York auction house Christie’s.
Christie’s said 98 percent of the lots found a buyer with the proceeds going to an AIDS research charity.
Saint Laurent and Berge assembled one of the world’s biggest and most important private art collections over five decades. Berge decided to sell everything after Saint Laurent died last year.
the sale was the second staged by the auction house and exceeded the first in Paris in February, which raised more than 370 million euros. It was one of the biggest sales the City of Light has seen in recent memory.
Christie’s had estimated the second sale of treasures belonging to Saint Laurent and his companion and business partner, Pierre Berge, would yield between 3 million and 4 million euros.
The auction held over four days, from Nov. 17 to Nov. 20, featured almost 1,200 works that used to decorate houses owned by the couple, including Chateau Gabriel, a 19th-century French country house in Normandy.
The heaviest bidding involved pair of armchairs, made at the start of the 19th century. They were valued at between 6,000 and 8,000 euros and eventually sold for 241,000 euros.
An umbrella holder was another unexpected hit. It stood for years at the entrance to Saint Laurent and Berge’s Paris apartment. It was valued at 300 to 500 euros, andt sold for 109,000 euros.
The auctions haven’t been without a hint of scandal.
The first sale infuriated China because two bronze sculptures claimed by the country were included in the lots. Berge said he had received death threats over the statuettes.
“I was the subject of many attacks, I was threatened — even with death,” Berge said in a recent interview.
“The police told me during the sale … that I should have bodyguards follow me, which I did for a few days,” Berge said.
The government of China claimed that the two Qing dynasty bronzes, a rat and a rabbit head, were seized illegally in 1860 when invading French and British forces razed Beijing’s Summer Palace.
Berge has said he would return the pieces if the country guaranteed human rights and allowed the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to return home.
But the pieces ultimately sold for 15 million euros in the February auction, after private collectors forced the Chinese bidders dropped out.