YSL Sale Brings in Record $484 Million

In what is already being called the Sale of the Century, the vast art collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé was sold at auction in Paris this week, bringing in €373.9 million ($434.8 million, all prices include buyer’s premium) over six sessions at the Grand Palais. The three-day sale set a world record for the most valuable private collection sold at auction and was the highest grossing sale in Europe on record. And the unprecedented results aren’t just good news for the art market: proceeds will benefit the Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and a new foundation that will be set up to fund AIDS research. Below, our “just the facts”-style UnBeige round-up:

Visitors to the public exhibition of the sale: Approximately 30,000

Weight of Christie’s 1,800-page sale catalogue: 22 pounds

Number of telephone lines installed in specially built saleroom: 100

Percentage of lots sold: 95.5%

World records set for artists at auction: 25

Sale price of top lot, Henri Matisse‘s “Les Coucous, tapis bleu et rose” (1911): €35.9 million ($46.4 million)

Sale price of low lot, a smokey quartz geode: €2,500 ($3,223)

Pre-sale estimate of Eileen Gray “Dragons” chair: €2 million to €3 million ($2.6 million to $3.8 million)

Sale price of “Dragons” chair: €21.9 million ($28.3 million)

Number of looted Chinese bronzes sold: 2

Best use of simile to describe sale: “Like a ship mocking a storm, the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé sale has moved calmly and steadily through three triumphant days of bidding.” -Christie’s vice president François de Ricqlès

Fate of unsold Picasso, “Instruments de musique sur un gueridon” (1914), estimated to sell for at least $32 million: “I will keep it,” said Bergé.