Photos of Château Gabriel @Marianne Haas. All other images @Christie’s
The dismantling of a collection of objects amassed with care and love over a lifetime can be a rather somber affair. Especially when it belongs to the dearly departed Yves Saint Laurent. Yet after the very serious, very lucrative auction this past February of the masterpieces he and his partner Pierre Bergé collected, the upcoming second YSL sale at Christie’s France has a lighthearted, uplifting air about it.
You see, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé had a much different aesthetic in mind for their weekend home in Deauville than they did for their museum-like Parisian pad. Created with the help of French decorator Jacques Grange, their ocean-side oasis was a Proust and Visconti-inspired pastiche of 19th century decadence.
Filled to the brim with ornate, rococo furnishings, fleur-de-lys quilted couches, oversized cushions, chinoiserie vases, Indian-patterned carpets and knick-knacks galore, the abode was a cornucopia for the senses. Exactly what a vacation home should be!
Next week’s sale at Christie’s France will give admirers and collectors the chance to take home a memento of this lesser-know, far more playful side of the designer’s style. Of the 1200 objects to reach the auction block over the four-day sale (whose proceeds will go to fight AIDS) the majority come from Château Gabriel, the three-storey manor that YSL and Bergé purchased in the early 1980s.
“The atmosphere they created was incredibly loaded. We are very far from minimalism, which is why there is such a profusion of objects,” says Simon de Monicault, furniture specialist at Christie’s France.
Wildly eclectic in terms of period, provenance and style, each piece packs a different decorative punch (an element Grange undoubtedly used to achieve such spectacular flair).
Unlike the first sale with its multi-million-Euro lots, this one is far from elitist. Some pieces are estimated at only a few hundred Euros, while the highest, a gothic revival salon set (est. €80,000-120,000) is pittance compared to the €32 million Matisse fetched in February.
“It’s not the very grand things, but it’s everything else, including lots of conversation pieces,” says Jonathan Rendell, deputy head of Christie’s America.
While there are no celebrity objects in the lots, there are countless charmers and enough stuff to fill a few dozen homes. So if you’re looking to turn a ho-hum living room into one that pops, consider an enamel and rock crystal reliquary (€1,000-1,500), an elk antler chandelier (est. €6,000-7,000) or a pair of 19th century stools created for a Queen Hortense ball (est. €7,000-€9,000).
The rest of the sale consists of personal bits and bobs from YSL’s Parisian apartment and office, including his 14-piece French Bulldog statuette set, his Hermès crocodile luggage and a treasured collection of eponymous jewels that he kept on his bed-side table.
All in all, the sale offers YSL admirers a final snapshot of his intimate world through the objects he collected and loved. Those who don’t get to go home with a souvenir can at least leave with a smile.