T he highly-anticipated week of sales for Pierre Bergé: From One Home to Another drew enthusiastic crowds from around the world to Sotheby’s Paris, presenting this remarkable collection to new audiences and seasoned collectors alike. The four sessions concluded with a total of €28,447,169 ($32,375,439), nearly four times the pre-sale high estimate.
The exhibition, which drew some 5,000 visitors to the Galerie Charpentier, focussed on the individual aesthetic of each of the four homes; ‘La Datcha’ in Normandy, ‘Mas Theo’ in Provence, ‘Villa Mabrouka’ in Morocco and an apartment on rue Bonaparte in Paris. The sale captured the imagination of a diverse bidding base, saw records achieved for a number of artists, and was 100% sold.
This rich collection, amassed over more than five decades and gathered from every corner of the globe, was testament to the inimitable eye of Pierre Bergé, and many of the pieces in the collection were acquired with his long-term partner Yves Saint Laurent. The legacy of their passion for the arts has resulted in the founding of cultural institutions in both Paris and Marrakech to be enjoyed by generations to come. Proceeds from the sale, organised in association with Pierre Bergé & Associés, will go to the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent and the Fondation Jardin Majorelle.
The story of Pierre Bergé is one of unrivalled knowledge and eclectic taste, honed and refined over several decades of collecting and nurtured through contact and collaboration with some of the most creative minds of the 20th century; the couple’s extended professional and social circle in Paris, Morocco and beyond included Jean Cocteau, Christian Dior, Zizi Jeanmaire and Bernard Buffet.
In transforming the galleries in to the four properties shared by Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent, visitors were afforded a glimpse inside their homes, and the bold pairings of Bergé’s balanced collecting ethos; mixing Old master paintings with Pop art, and 19th century European furniture with 20th century design classics. Warhol sits happily alongside Géricault, and Modernist sculpture by Picasso is placed next to ancient sculpture and 16th century vanitas.
So important was the couple’s relationship with their homes, they forged close relationships with a number of the world’s leading interior designers, such as Jacques Grange and Studio Peregalli, as well as commissioning works by the revolutionary design duo Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, with whom Bergé and Saint Laurent had been friends since the 1960s. A mirror created by Claude Lalanne for the living room at Villa Mabrouka in Tangiers, and inscribed ‘Y.S.L,’ sold for €909,000 – rising well above €200,000–300,000 estimate.
At the heart of Bergé’s collection were 12 paintings by Bernard Buffet, the majority of which were gifted to Bergé by the artist, his companion from 1950 to 1958. According to Bergé, the pair were inseparable during this period and his unwavering support of Buffet’s career is demonstrated in both accounts of their time together, and this deeply personal selection of works.
Couple nu assis (1956) soared to €705,000 against an estimate of €80,000-120,000. Other works by the expressionist master include Boeuf écorché from 1954 – one of the artist’s first tributes to Rembrandt – which realised €609,000, and the 1954 self-portrait Autoportrait sur fond noir, which sold for €669,000.
Several records were broken across the sessions, with Jean-Jules-Antoine Lecomte du Noüy’s The Harem's Gate, Souvenir of Cairo, selling for €2,409,000, setting a world auction record for the artist. Bergé and Saint Laurent grew an exceptional collection of Orientalist works, which also included Charles Knighton Warren's The Nubian Guard – also breaking the record for this artist, at €321,000 – eight times its pre-sale estimate.
Saint Laurent, in particular, was deeply fascinated and influenced with Eastern culture, and an exhibition on this theme, Yves Saint Laurent: Dreams of the Orient, is currently on view in Paris at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent.
Other highlights from the sale include a set of seven intricate Qing Dynasty wallpaper panels that achieved €465,000, and Pablo Picasso's Masque, 1961 in Cannes, which sold for €273,000, more than three times the estimate.