A look inside the unique lifestyle of one of the world’s most extraordinary and passionate collectors. Robert de Balkany surrounded himself with works of art from the outstanding artists of their time, putting together one of the most important collections of decorative arts and Old Master Paintings ever to appear at auction in France.
PARIS – A businessman who introduced American-inspired shopping centres to France among other countries with impressive success and a dedicated polo player whose team was a three-time winner of Deauville’s Coupe d’Or, Hungarian-born tycoon Robert de Balkany collected art and objects with the same energy and panache with which he approached life. De Balkany (1931–2015) married twice, first to a French ambassador’s daughter, Geneviève François-Poncet, and then to Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy, daughter of Italy's last king, Umberto II. A flamboyant tycoon, de Balkany, who enjoyed yachting, also built his own polo field at his château, Sainte-Mesme, and invited top teams from all over the world to play there (he once declared, “Polo is a lifestyle more than a sport”). He filled his houses including the Paris town house, the magnificent Hôtel de Feuquières in the Rue de Varenne, with English and Italian paintings, furniture and silver of royal provenance, books and works of art which he collected for over 50 years.
The Treasures, Old Master and British Works on Paper and Old Masters Evening Sale on 5–6 July all produced strong results in the face of the Brexit turmoil, with records achieved for a Jan Brueghel flower still life (£3.85 million) and Jean-Étienne Liotard’s A Dutch Girl at Breakfast (£4.4 million), among other notable prices. Leading the Treasures sale was the spectacular Rothschild Orpheus Cup, a late-Renaissance rarity that brought £1.06 million. Click ahead to see more top lots from across sales. LAUNCH SLIDESHOW