Forget the credit crunch when the world's most expensive chair sells for €21.9m. The Yves Saint Laurent auction in Paris this week broke record after record for art sales and raised €400m for charity
Crisis? What crisis? The record-trampling sale of the century at the Grand Palais in Paris this week has proved one thing at least. The rich, just like the poor, are always with us, even if they prefer not to reveal their names. The three-day auction of 730 antiquities, paintings, sculptures, objets d'art and pieces of furniture which belonged to the late fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent, smashed a dozen art-market records in its first two days.
The auction, which has attracted collectors, celebrities, dealers and wheeler-dealers from all over the world, has also set new records for works of art by Henri Matisse, Constantin Brancusi, Marcel Duchamp, James Ensor, Piet Mondrian, Giorgio de Chirico, Théodore Gèricault, Dominique Ingres and Jacques-Louis David.
The sale was held in one of the world's largest and most prestigious exhibition halls, the Grand Palais, off the Champs-Elysées. A staggering 33,000 people queued to see the collection last weekend. Access to the auction room has been strictly controlled, with potential buyers having to prove they had access to at least €500,000 in ready cash.
Two bronze sculptures, which disappeared from the summer Imperial Palace when French and British forces sacked it at the close of the second Opium War in 1860, were snapped up despite repeated attempts by the Chinese government to ban their sale.
By John Lichfield