Co-founder and the managerial genius behind the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house, Opera Czar, businessman, leftist, intellectual, aesthete par excellence were just some of the badges that Pierre Bergé wore or were pinned on him during his illustrious life. He was a man of slight built and exquisitely tailored suits, a man who seemed to relish every controversy ignited by his use or abuse of power, or by his prickly personality. A neutral opinion about Pierre Bergé was a rare commodity indeed. Pierre Bergé died in September 2017, due to myopathy. His vast estate will be at Sotheby’s Paris.
Although a well-known personality within the fashion industry and in his native France, he became internationally renowned as the man behind the record-breaking “sale of the century;” when Saint Laurent’s estate was auctioned at Christie’s in 2009. It raised over €373 million, and at the time was the highest grossing sale of a private collection. To raise the profile of the auction, Saint Laurent and Bergé’s grand Paris apartment at 55 Rue de Babylone was dismantled and reassembled at the Grand Palais. For days people queued in long lines to get a glimpse of the magnificent selection of Art Deco furniture, priceless paintings and ancient Chinese statues.
Now it’s the turn of Bergé’s vast and varied collection of furniture and artefacts to go under the hammer. This decision was taken by Madison Cox, the current president of the ‘Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent’, and also of the ‘Fondation Jardin Majorelle’ in Marrakech. A significant portion of the proceeds from the sales will benefit these two foundations.
“A passionate and voracious collector his entire life, Pierre Bergé had a unique, heartfelt and genuine relationship with the multitude of objects, books, and works of art with which he personally chose to surround himself”- Madison Cox.
“Pierre continued to collect passionately and tirelessly until the very end of his life. The contents of his various residences, while well documented, remained part of his private universe towards the latter part of his life. It is with a great sense of responsibility that the decisions were made to share them at this sale, and to continue the Pierre Bergé legacy,” he added.
The three-day sale at Sotheby’s Paris is organised in partnership with Pierre Bergé & Associés, a Paris-based auction house that was co-founded by Bergé in 2002 which specialises in fine art and antiques. The objects on sale were sourced from Bergé’s four properties in Normandy, Provence, Paris and Tangiers, Morocco, the inventory consists of 1,200 items grouped into approximately 800 lots. The pieces on sale will be on display at Sotheby’s newly-refurbished spaces at the Galerie Charpentier in Paris from Oct. 29 to 31.
Initially, it was understood that only the rare and valuable items in Bergé’s collection would be up for sale but was later changed to include everything. The change of heart was inspired by the need to capture the full-spectrum of Bergé lifestyle and the values he embodied. Thus, the contents of the sale will now better reveal Bergé’s wide-ranging passions and interests that span many genres, decades and origins; from fine art to furniture, tabletop service, lighting, desktop objects and many other charming objet d’art.
Among the objects expected to generate the highest demand are a series of ten paintings by the French expressionist Bernard Buffet. Completed early in the artist’s career, they have been a part of Bergé’s private collection for a long time. They are currently at the Musée Estrine, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where Bergé was staying at the time of his death. There are also a series of Orientalist paintings, which adorned Bergé’s Paris bedroom. Another piece of interest is a mirror by the highly acclaimed French duo ‘Les Lalanne.’ At the other end of the spectrum are objects such as a series of wicker furniture from Bergé’s Provence residence or a set of metal garden chairs.
Given the broad and seemingly eclectic nature of the collection, the sale is expected to attract a broad spectrum of an audience; from the serious collectors to the novice buyers. While the Bergé sale is likely to be much more modest in scope compared to the Saint Laurent sale, strong interest is still expected, thanks to the exceptional provenance of the pieces on offer.
Based on estimate emerging from Sotheby’s, prices are expected to range anywhere from a few hundred Euros to a half-million Euros with the overall sale estimated to total between five to eight million Euros.
Sotheby’s also announced that a separate auction of books and manuscripts from Bergé’s extensive library is scheduled for December in Paris. The collection reflects Bergé’s passion for philosophy, botany and garden design; it has books from friends such as Jean Cocteau and Jean Giono, as well as rare historical ones such as “Le Propriétaire des choses,” published in 1486.