Masterpieces and decorative art from the estate of the legendary couturier Hubert de Givenchy fetched a gargantuan $86,810,521 at an auction held at Christie’s France on June 14, the opening night of six sales to be held this week. Held in the historic Théâtre Marigny in Paris, the first auction of 63 lots sold out entirely, with 76 percent of lots selling above their high estimate.
“Hubert was a great supporter of French culture, an ambassador of French taste, while also being very open to other things and places in the world,” Charles Cator, the deputy chairman of Christie’s International, told Vogue ahead of the auction. “He liked noble simplicity.”
Givenchy’s collection was housed in his stunning Paris residence Hôtel d’Orrouer, and in his chateau in the Loire Valley, Manoir du Jonchet. The couturier had eclectic taste, mixing sculptures by Alberto Giacometti with Louis XIII furniture. His art objects were displayed in the kind of stripped back, classic interiors to be expected from the designer who created some of actress Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic Hollywood looks.
“He saw how to use very grand, wonderful but sometimes difficult French furniture in a way that was understated and easy to live with, which made him important to the antiques trade as well. He had this kind of Protestant restraint, a sense of measure, but he also had courage and the eye to bring out shapes and enhance what was special about things in a brilliant way,” Cator told Vogue. “There’s a clarity which is timeless, but they’re also fun. They’re going with good karma.”
The top lot from the auction—which is also the top lot of the year for Christie’s Paris—was Alberto Giacometti’s, Femme Qui Marche, which sold for €27.2 million ($28.6 million). Other key sales included Joan Miro’s Le passage de l’oiseau Migraeur (1968), which made $7.2 million, a pair of Louis XVI girandoles adorned with figures by Pierre-Philippe Thomire, which made $5.2 million, and a David Roentgen and François Remond desk from around 1780, probably made for a member of the French royal family, which brought in $2.2 million.
“This was a historic night for decorative arts. This was Monsieur de Givenchy’s great love, and it was particularly thrilling to see the spectacular prices achieved by the furniture, gilt bronze objects and sculpture,” Cator said in a statement after the auction.
Givenchy was particularly passionate about the work of Diego Giacometti (the younger brother of Alberto), who became a close friend of the designer. Givenchy even commissioned the artist to design his front door knocker for the Manoir du Jonchet, and the Christie’s sales have included several pieces of furniture and a small sculpture of a dog by Giacommeti. “You can feel the artist’s hand, Diego’s fingers in everything he created,” Givenchy said of the artist.
The rest of the collection is in a series of live day sales held at both the Théâtre Marigny (on June 15) and Christie’s salesroom at Avenue Matignon (June 16–17), as well as an online only sale (through June 23). See works from the collection below.
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