February 23, 2009

Saint Laurent auction reaps $264M

A sale of art from the private collection of the late Yves Saint Laurent and his partner fetched more than $264 million in Paris Monday, auction officials said.

The auction -- the first of six to be held by Christie's -- brought in record prices for works by Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, Constantin Brancusi, James Ensor, Piet Mondrian and Giorgio de Chirico, The New York Times reported. The Matisse went for $40.9 million, more than twice as much as had been expected.

The newspaper said the auction had only one significant failure. Christie's pulled a Picasso that had been expected to bring in 25 million to 30 million euros after bidding stalled at 21 million euros ($26 million).

Christie's would not say who acquired the Matisse.

Saint Laurent -- who took the fashion world by storm in 1958 when, at age 21, he broke out as the successor to designer Christian Dior -- died in June in Paris at 71.

His personal and professional partner, Pierre Berge, told a news conference in Paris Monday he decided this collection had run its course the day Saint Laurent died. He said his share of the proceeds from the auction, apart from commissions, will be donated to the foundation he set up with Saint Laurent, as well as to cultural and charitable causes and to establish a new center to research AIDS.

The sale continues this week, with furniture, silver and other art going on the block.