The Los Angeles Times gets it’s share of quotes on the Saint-Laurent sale:
“Giant!” declared art critic Béatrice De Rochebouet of Le Figaro newspaper on the eve of the auction. “The word is not too weak in the mouths of those who have witnessed the preparations for the sale of the century.” Nonetheless, a mood of uncertainty prevailed over the festivities because of the international economic meltdown that has inflicted heavy damage on the art market.
As Christie’s prepared for the huge event, they announced layoffs of 300 employees. Elsewhere, galleries have closed and masterpieces have gone unsold. The auction this week is seen by experts as a key test of whether the wealthy will embrace or shrink from prodigious purchases. With media heat building in recent days, Christie’s sold out all 6,000 copies of the auction catalog. At the small Le Bourget airport north of Paris, authorities attributed a 35% increase in traffic by private jets over the weekend to dealers arriving for the bidding.
“This happens once every 100 years,” said Misako Takuku, a Japanese collector of the Impressionist Manet, in comments to Agence France-Press. “It’s like a dream.”
The proceedings took place under chandeliers and the glass roof of the palace on the Avenue Champs-Elysees. About 1,500 elegant brown chairs were set up for buyers who had reserved them long in advance. Bianca Jagger, ex-wife of the rock star, and an assortment of European business and political figures were there. Several hundred people who could not find seats stood off to the side.
Before the arrival of the limousine crowd, Parisians endured long lines in a cold drizzle Monday morning for a public exhibit of the works.
Michele Robin, a retiree, waited two hours to glimpse the epic convergence of art and commerce. She said she was impressed by the art deco furniture and a Goya painting to be donated to the Louvre. But she expressed some disdain for the commercial aspects.
“These people are like today’s politicians: They are completely out of touch with reality,” Robin said. She described the buyers as “People who have more money than they need.”
Auction of Yves Saint-Laurent art fetches record-breaking $261 million (Los Angeles Times)