YSL Most Expensive Private Collection Ever Sold At Auction

24Feb09
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By Emily Waldorf

The first night of the historic three-day Yves Saint Laurent sale already made $264 million, making it the most successful single owner sale in history.  According to Bloomberg, “Dealers said collectors were attracted by the quality of the objects gathered together and were choosing to ignore concerns about falling demand at international sales. ”  Auction records were set for Marcel Duchamp, Henri Matisse, Constanin Brancusi, James Ensor, and Piet Mondrian.

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The Grand Palais in Paris has been transformed into a temporary museum for the Collection Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Bergé, with an astonishing 33,000 visitors pouring into the preview and a well-heeled crowd of 1,200 potential bidders packed into the VIP seats during the first two hour session of the auction.  It was rumored that the majority of bidding was between American bidders both in the audience and on the over 100 telephone lines reserved for phone bidders.

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A French court made the decision today to proceed with the sale of a  pair of hotly disputed 18th century Chinese bronzes that were almost pulled from the auction for legal reasons.  The two animal heads, a rat and a rabbit, will be auctioned on Wednesday.  They are rumored to come from the Yuanmingyuan palace looted in 1860 by the Anglo-French troops.  Christie’s said in a statement: “We support the principle of repatriation of cultural relics and hope that the auction can provide an opportunity for the works to return to their home country.”

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The proceeds of the auction will be donated to the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, set up in 2004 to preserve the Yves Saint Laurent archive, and a new foundation for AIDS research.  Perhaps the art market hasn’t been affected as badly as the wider economy, after all.  Stay tuned for the results of the next two sessions…

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More Coverage

Saint Laurent and His Art Still Make a Sensation (NY Times)

The Boom is Back At Least for One Night (ARTINFO)

Yves Saint Laurent Sale Sells for € 206 million (IHT)

Géricault Portrait, Eileen Gray Chair Fetch Records at YSL Sale (Bloomberg)

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