Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Final Thoughts on the YSL Auction

When Christie's released the YSL and Pierre Berge collection auction catalogue late last winter, I didn't waste any time plunking down my $290 to buy a copy of the five volume set. It actually doesn't seem quite so expensive now that I see that copies are available on Amazon for $900. I do know, though, that some of you who wanted to purchase a copy of the catalogues were unable to do so as all 6,000 copies sold out. If that was the case, you might want to consider The Yves Saint Laurent-Pierre Berge Collection: The Sale of the Century, a Christie's/Flammarion collaboration that is a relative bargain compared to the catalogue set.

While not as comprehensive as the actual auction catalogue, the book does a nice job of highlighting the stand out pieces in the pair's collection- no easy feat as the entire collection was chockablock with stellar works of art. Furniture by Jean-Michel Frank, Eileen Gray, and Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne are featured as well as paintings by Goya and Leger. Remarks by Christie's specialists and friends of YSL appear alongside the numerous photographs, something which adds additional insight to both YSL and the collection itself. And if, like me, you were wondering how much particular lots went for, the realized prices of the entire collection appear at the back of the book.

If you have the auction catalogues, the images of both the lots as well as YSL's Rue de Babylone apartment and Berge's Rue Bonaparte home will already be familiar to you, but what might be new to you are the behind the scenes photographs of the auction itself. After seeing the images of the well dressed crowd in the Grand Palais, I wish I had finagled a trip to Paris to attend the auction myself. I have a feeling that I would have spent just as much time studying the crowd as much as I would have the collection itself.

The auction held in the Grand Palais, February 23, 2009

Christie's exact replica of the cabinet of curiosities from Yves Saint Laurent's Rue de Babylone home

The real thing, designed by Jacques Grange in the 1980s. The inlaid floor was inspired by that at Franz von Stuck's Munich villa. The cabinets were lined in silk velvet.

YSL's bar designed by Francois-Xavier Lalanne in 1965. From left to right: a cylindrical crystal vase, a spherical ice bucket, a horn of plenty cocktail shaker, and an egg-shaped bottle rack, all held by a nickle silver and brass bar.

YSL in his library; the Fernand Leger painting, "The Blue Medallion" (1928), commanded 649,000 Euros at auction.

(All images copyright Christie, Manson & Woods Ltd. 2009. All images from The Yves Saint Laurent Pierre Berge Collection, The Sale of The Century, published by Flammarion SA Paris, Christie's, 2009)


  1. Well, let me say Thank You for sharing!!!
    I look forward to images from the catalog, of those you posted, WOW!!!
    Thank you for sharing!The lit up Babylon room is illuminating!

  2. Truly a genius and style icon! The images are so elegant. Jennifer, thank you for sharing this!

  3. HI Jennifer,

    Great info. I would love to buy the book. Is it available only at Christies? I couldn't find it when I googled the title. Please let me know.

    Many thanks.

    Lynn Byrne, author Decor Arts Now

  4. Lynn, It's available on Amazon. If you click on the link above, it will take you directly to the page.

  5. Absolutely love the bar. Always have. I think it's one of the most distinctive Lalanne pieces he owned. I wonder if it was a one-off?

  6. Thanks Jennifer. Wonder how I missed it. Lynn

  7. Stunning. Thanks for the share. Could we have more PLEASE???

  8. Hello,

    What a nice moment it was. Was in Paris that time, saw the collection in the grand palais, it was just fantastic, being there was a unique feeling, bought the whole catalogue and i can say that i look onece or twice a month at it, it's so nice.

    Thanks for sharing.


  9. David- I'm officially jealous! How lucky you were to be a part of design history.

  10. Would've loved to be a fly on the wall. A fly. One who couldn't raise a paddle or so much as be noticed if I twitched... that bar! Thanks for the peek, Peak.



    I love this feature. You give the whole sale and the collections and setting a beautiful and prudent perspective.
    Christie's of course, gave all their best clients the whole catalog, so that's where many went.
    The book is terrific, as you said (along with THE PRIVATE WORLD OF YVES ST LAURENT AND PIERRE BERGE published recently by THAMES & HUDSON.)

    They were the ultimate collectors. Based in Paris, and with fortunes to spend, they were in an out of auction houses daily, reading avidly each catalog, knowing all the dealers as well as the sellers--the ultimate insider/collectors.
    It's interesting to note --Pierre Berge has commented on this--that over the years they traded up and up and were in a position to escalate their collections, so in the end they had the creme de la creme of artists, sculptors and furniture designers (Gray for example).
    These books are a must for a serious collector.
    Thank you for this very informative and insightful post, Jennifer.
    very best, DIANE

  12. Anonymous5:39 PM

    Happy New Year!
    I always enjoy your blog.
    I also have the Christies's full set and there is also a new catalog
    "Chateau Gabriel", another exquisite catalog sure to become a collectors item as well.
    Best, Jose J. Cabrera

  13. How funny! I bought the first part of the is obvious he major quality and rarity of their collection!

    JUST TODAY I discovered the book Diane describes.....and I bought it!

    Yves and Pierre were very unusual collectors.

    For me.....the book is an amazing and wonderful part of my library.

    Wonderful post!

    Diane DS knows everything.....and is wonderful about sharing it!


  14. Jennifer,
    I ordered my Yves Saint Laurent Pierre Berge Collection book and because I have Amazon prime it came today. OMG, Totally amazing. This whole post and comment thread really made me nostalgic for my days working at Sotheby's. Biggest sale I ever worked on had to be the Jackie O sale. Thanks so much for letting me know about this book.
    Lynn, author, Decor Arts Now

  15. Lynn, so glad you like it! It's a gem of book.