Yesterday in Paris, the 3-day auction of the private art collection of Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, closed at a grand total of €373.5 million (US $484.6 million). The auction, dubbed "the biggest private art auction in history", had an 1,800 page catalog and thousands of bidders. Over 30,000 people queued outside to attend the collection preview and the press waited with baited breath to find out the results.
Nearly every single item sold over high estimate, and ten at world record prices. The Matisse painting, "Les Coucous, tapis bleu et rose" from 1911 — Yves Saint Laurent's favorite painting, featured in the above image — sold for €35,905,000 ($US ~45,6 million). The mid-17th century Franz Hals "Portrait of a man holding a book", Bergé's favorite, sold for €3.1 million (US $3.9 million), almost tripling its estimate.
In the furniture department, the winner was clearly the Dragons' chair, designed at the time of World War I by Eileen Gray, a reclusive franco-Irish designer. The dragons' chair made nearly ten times its auction estimate, coming in at €21,905,000 (US $28 million). Eileen Gray pieces made up 5 of the top ten auction items.
Thanking the media for their support, Bergé said: "Gathering a collection of this importance is a work of art — and I'm sure Yves Saint Laurent and I, we made a work of art."
Christie's has a wonderful article on the highlights, well worth a visit.
Source for auction figures and photos: Christie's
Source for Bergé quote: WWD