The cavalcade of stories focusing on the YSL/Bergé collection sale began a long time ago. But as the throngs traipse through the Grand Palais and the art world braces itself for the event that many hope will beat back the fear, the stories just keep on coming.
The Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Crow ran a story ran last weekend:
- Now, Christie’s is marketing the collection Messrs. Saint Laurent and Bergé built like it’s a trove of once-hidden treasures. Specialists working in the Babylone apartment earlier this year kept the heater high and the lights low, as the designer used to, in part to maintain the aura for visiting collectors. More than 300 top clients got private tours. To fit them all in, some were only given 20 minutes apiece to walk around the mirrored music room; the airy Grand Salon with its oak-paneled walls papered in paintings; and the downstairs library, a low-ceilinged space stuffed with so many objects that the designer hung a Matisse on the back of a door.
- “The whole art world will want to be seen at the sale,” says Thierry Millerand, a New York adviser who specializes in French furniture, “but will people with huge amounts of money want to spend? Christie’s must be full of question marks.”
- “Christie’s wouldn’t be loaning out so much money for this sale unless they thought they were in a really fierce fight, which maybe they are,” says Richard Feigen, a longtime dealer in New York. “If it’s a flop, it’ll affect people’s willingness to put money in all sorts of art. But if the sale goes wild, it’ll prove the point that art is still a safe place to store your money.”
Here’s Time Magazine on the overall effect of the apartment:
On a blustery January afternoon, I was one of the last people to get a peek inside the three-story apartment on Rue de Babylone where Saint Laurent lived from 1972 until his death. Stepping into the Grand Salon, visitors are met with a mind-bogglingly eclectic display of art that somehow achieves a visual harmony. An imposing Fernand Léger dominates the far wall with a Matisse nude tucked away nearby; on the other side of the broad rectangular room, where Renaissance objects of bronze and silver intermingle with sumptuous art-deco furniture, an elaborate cubist Picasso masterpiece — Instruments de musique sur un guéridon, 1914 — hangs above a Cézanne watercolor of a French landscape, which hangs over a sleek, black bookcase hosting a perfect little female portrait by the 19th-century master Ingres.
Art + Auction‘s Simon Hewitt spoke to Bergé too:
- The third solution was an auction. For me, this was the right one, for several reasons: It was the easiest and quickest, and I have always believed that we hold art in transit and that one day it must go on its way. I’m very glad about the idea that the art we collected will go to new homes or to museums. For me, that’s most important. People don’t know about the collection yet — they haven’t seen it. With an auction, it will exist. Not least because there will be five catalogues.
- I am more responsible than Yves for the choices in the collection. To begin with, we bought plenty of things together: Art Deco, Brancusi, de Chirico. Afterward, well, Saint Laurent was someone who worked from dawn till dusk, liked to be alone, was an introvert and lived by himself with his dog. I’m not like that. So I went around the galleries and did the buying. But afterward I showed him everything, and he always agreed with me.
- The collection was formed in a very demanding manner, with very sure taste. To form a collection of this quality is like creating a work of art. In a way, you stop being a collector and become something of an expert. Alas, we never bought Rothko, Newman, Pollock or Bacon. I very much regret the absence of Barnett Newman, a painter for whom I have immense admiration.
- Bernard Buffet, a painter I loved when he was 20 and loved much less later, but never mind. I never deny my past. I was 19 when I met Bernard Buffet. I liked art but didn’t know a lot about it. His knowledge was extensive. Together we went round the Louvre together 50 times, maybe 80 times. That’s when I started to love art. The young, minimalist Buffet was very different from the later one. Buffet was a great painter. Unfortunately he started to produce works on an almost industrial scale.
And, of course, Souren Melikian does not approve:
“This is a very important auction,” said Souren Melikian, the longtime art editor of The International Herald Tribune, the global edition of The New York Times. “There are a large number of high-quality objects, not necessarily as stunning as billed, but high quality bought over a large number of years. And they come to auction at a time when the market is winding down, when there is less available than 20 years ago.”
Of course, Mr. Melikian said, “the auction is enhanced by the attention these two characters have attracted to themselves.” [ . . . ] While Mr. Melikian praised much of the collection, including the German silver and bronze pieces, some of the Art Deco items and the 18th-century furniture, he expressed some disappointment. “It’s not nearly as impressive as I would have expected from people with this much money who were collecting for so long,” he said. “It’s not a great compliment to them.”
Finally, don’t forget to read Amy Fine Collins’s piece from Vanity Fair: the-things-yves-loved_-about-us_-vanityfaircom