Nov 15, 2009
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Yves Saint Laurent's everyday knick-knacks up for grabs

Nov 15, 2009

PARIS, Nov 15, 2009 (AFP) - After auctioning a highly valuable art collection amassed over half a century, Pierre Berge, partner of late pantsuit pioneer Yves Saint Laurent, is putting everyday pieces up for sale this week.

Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent in 1992
Photo : Pierre Verdy/AFP

Last February's 700-item sale of the YSL/Berge collection smashed record on record, netting 342 million euros (491 million dollars) and making Saint Laurent the top-earning dead celebrity of 2009, according to Forbes which placed him ahead of Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.

This week's sale, starting Tuesday 17 November and running over four days, bears little comparison with the first instalment, said to be the biggest private art sale in history.

Taking in items ranging from a billiard table to giant chandeliers and even pots and pans, most of the 1,185 items under the hammer hail from the pair's country hideaway on the French Normandy coast.

"It's all great stuff," said antique dealer Thierry Blanchard at a pre-auction viewing. "They're well-chosen pieces that reflect their style."

Estimated by Christie's at between three to four million euros, the proceeds will fund campaigns against HIV-AIDS, Berge said last month.

From neo-Gothic chairs, to panther sofas, rococco mirrors, porcelain, floor cushions and spare curtains, prices range from 80 euros (110 dollars) for turn-of-the-century paperweights and vases to 3,000 euros (4,100 dollars) for a an army of lead soldiers, and 50,000 euros (67,000 dollars) for a work by Fernand Leger.

"All of this," said Jonathan Rendell, deputy head of Christie's America, "was part of their intimacy, their universe."

Works on auction are largely from the pair's three-storey Chateau Gabriel in Normandy, a rambling place with a sea view and vast grounds built in 1874.

Purchased in the early 1980s, the pair had it redecorated to evoke writer Marcel Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" as well as late 19th century castle-life in Bavaria and decors from Luchino Visconti's final film "The Innocent".

The walls of the living room were painted in the style of Claude Monet's Nympheas, classical furniture mixed with unusual objets d'art, and each of the bedrooms inspired and named after characters in the Proust novel.

Berge, a business tycoon and arts patron who was Saint Laurent's lover and business partner, opted to sell their collection and belongings after the June 2008 death at 71 of the fashion czar who put women in pants.

The sale winds up Friday (20 November) evening with the sale of the king of couture's black 2007 S-class Mercedes-Benz -- estimated between 30,000 and 50,000 euros -- his crocodile leather suitcases and signature jewels he kept in his bedroom.by Claire Rosemberg

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