Saturday, 7 March 2009

How much for an old blue and pink carpet ?

Well quite a lot in the end as bids for couturier Yves Saint Laurent's private art collection have hit 206 million euros ($408 million), making it the most expensive ever auctioned.

Six world record bids for works by major modern artists and dozens of lesser sales confirmed the global reputation of the collection amassed over half a century by YSL and his lifelong companion Pierre Berge.
Hundreds of buyers gathered under the spectacular glass and cast iron vaults of the Grand Palais exhibition hall on the banks of the Seine in Paris, transformed for the historic three-day event into a cavernous high-tech auction house.

The biggest bid so far was for a Matisse painting, Cuckoos On A Blue And Pink Carpet, which went for a record 32 million euros, smashing the auctioneer's pre-sale estimate of 18 million euros.

By contrast, the much-anticipated Pablo Picasso work Musical Instruments On A Table flopped. Bidding fell short of the 25 million euro guide price - the biggest in the collection - and the piece was withdrawn unsold.

Nevertheless, works by other artists including Dutch abstract painter Piet Mondrian, Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi and French innovator Marcel Duchamp earned record sums, well above earlier estimates.

Buyers in furs filed past a marble minotaur statue and elegant hostesses in YSL's trademark dark tailored suits ahead of what had been widely dubbed the "Sale of the Century".

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