The lure of provenance

What may have begun as an austere temple to modernism was transformed by Marie-Laure into an elaborate and exotic stage set reflecting her commanding personality. Saint Laurent and Bergé visited her often in the 1960s, and Bergé is quick to acknowledge her influence.

And finally there is the shade of Edmond de Goncourt presiding over the spirit of the sale. He bequeathed the proceeds of his and his brother Jules’s entire estate to fund the prix Goncourt, and he perfectly expressed the way in which Bergé has approached selling this collection after the death of Saint Laurent. “My wish is that my drawings, my prints, my bibelots, my books,…the works of art which have been the delight of my life, shall not be consigned to the cold tomb of a museum and subjected to the coarse gaze of the indifferent passerby,” Goncourt wrote, “and I ask that they are all scattered by the commissaire-priseur’s gavel so that the joy which each acquisition gave me can be experi-enced once again by the inheritors of my tastes.”

Proceeds from the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé Collection, sold by Christie’s in association with Pierre Bergé and Associates, will go toward a new foundation dedicated mainly to scientific research and the fight against AIDS. For further information and catalogues, visit the Web site

MEREDITH ETHERINGTON-SMITH is a London-based writer who specializes in the fine and decorative arts.

[Compiled by Bill Stern, Executive Director at the Museum of California Design, Los Angeles. Originally published in "Curator's Eye" in Modern Magazi

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