Saint Laurent collection breaks world sales record

February 24th, 2009 - 11:42 am ICT by IANS  

Paris, Feb 24 (DPA) The world may be sinking into a depression, but lovers of modern art outdid themselves in bidding for artworks from the collection of late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, which went on the auction block late Monday in Paris.
The auction broke the world record for the sale of a private collection, fetching some 206 million euros ($262 million) on the very first day of the three-day event, the online edition of the daily Le Figaro reported.

The previous record, set in 1997 in New York City, was 163 million euros for the collection of Victor and Sally Ganz.

The first day of the sale was dedicated to modern art and saw a painting by Henri Matisse fetch a record for the artist, while works by Piet Mondrian and Constantin Brancusi easily brought in more than their estimates.

Matisse’s 1911 painting “Cowslips, Red and Blue Carpet” went for about 31.6 million euros ($40.1 million), not counting the buyer’s fee of 12 percent. The estimate for the work by Christie’s auction house, which is holding the sale, had been 12 million to 18 million euros.

Brancusi’s wood sculpture “Madame LR”, with a top estimate of 20 million euros, went for more than 25.5 million euros, and Mondrian’s 1922 work “Composition in Blue, Red, Yellow and Black”, which had inspired the designer’s groundbreaking 1965 day dress, fetched 19 million euros, nearly double its top estimate.

However, the work considered the auction’s central piece, a 1914 Cubist painting by Picasso titled “Musical Instruments on a Table”, estimated at 25 million to 30 million euros, went unsold after failing to attract the minimum price.

The collection was amassed by Saint Laurent and his longtime partner Pierre Berge over 50 years and was expected to bring in about 300 million euros. Part of the proceeds are to go to an association that bankrolls AIDS research.

Saint Laurent died in June 2008 of a brain tumour.

The sale scored a legal victory earlier Monday when a French judge rejected a petition to block the sale of two Chinese bronze animal heads.

The Association for the Protection of Chinese Art in Europe had tried to prevent Christie’s from selling the two bronzes because they were allegedly looted from China by British and French troops 150 years ago.

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