The recession doesnâ€™t seem to be having much of an impact on how much collections are being auctioned off for – not if one auction in particular is anything to go by, anyway.
In February this year, a 3-day Christieâ€™s auction (23rd-25th) was held at the Grand Palais in Paris in which the lavish collection of the late Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Berge, was centre stage. It consisted of silver and non-silver lots including paintings, drawings and art deco spanning from the 16th to 20th century.
The auction became a 3-day whirlwind of world-record setting and itâ€™s quite surprising that no-one fainted or the auctioneer didnâ€™t burst out crying at the sheer amazement of it all.
World records were smashed to smithereens (dust, I tell you, dust) – including one for the most expensive private collection sold at an auction, one for a sale of 20th century decorative arts, and a record for the most expensive lots of silver ever sold.
Some say that it will take some time, decades perhaps, for some of these new records to be toppled.
On Day 2, Saint Laurentâ€™s and Bergeâ€™s silver collections were sold for a whopping â‚¬19,882,375, the most thatâ€™s ever been paid for collections of silver! Though all lots (consisting of 111 pieces in total) sold for that record-breaking amount, the bidding bee was particularly abuzz for a set of Hanover cups which amassed an amazing â‚¬6,134,000. The most expensive silver lot out of those was the 17th century silver-gilt Osterode cup which sold for â‚¬853,000. The lucky buyer was Galerie J. Krugel who, itâ€™s understood, Saint Laurent and Berge had purchased items from in the past.
Galerie J. Krugel seemed to have the luck of the Irish and was also successful with two other silver bids. They turned out to be the 3rd and 5th most expensive lots of silver sold on the day. Both were created in the 17th century, one a rare Bodendick table-fountain, the other a larger-than-usual gilt cup better known as the Lunenburg Cup. Both lots sold at â‚¬721,000 and â‚¬613,000 respectively.
The second most expensive lot sold was a rare 17th century Silesian model of the Greek deity of Time, Chronos, balancing a sphere on his shoulders. It went for â‚¬781,000. The buyer chose to remain anonymous (could be Bill Gates for all we know! Barbie, even!)
At the end of it all, all items sold over the 3 days tallied up to a whopping â‚¬373,935,500 (almost â‚¬374 million) â€“ a world record for an auction in Europe.
Why did they sell for so much, smashing world records left, right and centre? I believe the lots would definitely have sold rather handsomely as they feature well-sought-after items â€“ some which are very rare. However, what might have pushed it to astronomical bidding heights, I guess, might be down to a combination of things. First, thereâ€™s the name â€˜Yves Saint Laurentâ€™ which is infamous. Add the unfortunate fact that heâ€™s passed away and voila. Items do tend to up in value if they belong(ed) to a dead artist/collector, donâ€™t they?
A significant portion of the sales will go towards funding the Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation as well as a foundation thatâ€™ll be formed in order to carry out research into a potential combatant for AIDS.