Rich People Worldwide Flock to Paris to Buy Yves Saint Laurent’s Art

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So this room is full of wealthy people! Photo: Getty Images

At 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, the seminal auction of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé's art collection began in Paris, the likes of which only comes along once a century. Amassed by the couple over five decades, the gigantic collection includes works by Picasso, Mondrian, and Matisse, Art Deco furniture, bronzes and antiques, including two Chinese figureheads. Pieces date from the first century to the twentieth century. The collection is so huge that the only place in Paris it could fit was the Grand Palais, and Christie's will spend three days auctioning off the 731 lots. The collection is so special that all 7,000 of the five-volume catalogues have sold out and are expected to become collectors' items, and 30,000 people came by the Grand Palais over two days just to look at it.

But what also makes this event so special, aside from the staggering collection, is that it's given rich people and people who buy things for them a reason to come together in Paris in the recession to spend massive amounts of cash. A small Italian landscape by Degas was the first item sold, to an anonymous telephone bidder for $485,000. A painting by James Ensor estimated to go for $3 million went for $5.6 million. A Cézanne landscape hoped to fetch $2.5 million to $3.8 million only fetched $2.3 million. In total, the auction is expected to fetch $392 million, which is probably almost, if not quite, enough to buy Barneys. But proceeds will go to much worthier causes, split between medical research and the fight against AIDS, and Bergé and Saint Laurent's foundation.

Saint Laurent 'sale of the century' begins [AFP]
The unique sell of YSL: Fashion king’s art auction [Independent UK]