Pierre Bergé, the former partner of Yves Saint Laurent, claims that a portfolio of works by the designer was stolen by one of his former lovers.
It seems the house of Yves Saint Laurent can’t keep itself out of the headlines.
Following the seemingly never-ending feud between journalist Cathy Horyn and YSL’s new creative director Hedi Slimane, Pierre Bergé, the long-term business partner of the house’s eponymous founder, has now claimed that a 400-item portfolio of works by the late designer was unlawfully taken by one of Saint Laurent’s former lovers.
The portfolio includes some 290 sketches - some of which are erotic - a journal, personal letters, a self portrait, a painting by Andy Warhol of YSL’s dogs and a Helmut Newton photograph, and is said to be worth up to €12 million.
Bergé claims that Fabrice Thomas, who worked as the designer’s driver before later becoming his lover, stole the collection of works from Saint Laurent’s Paris apartment in the Nineties, later part-gifting, part-selling it to an unidentified German businessman who gave him “a job, a car and a new life” following the end of his relationship with YSL. The German businessman now wants to exhibit or sell the works, to which Bergé objects.
Thomas, the accused, says that when he and Saint Laurent ended their relationship, Saint Laurent told him he could keep the works as long as they were no longer needed be the atelier.
Bergé does not believe this explanation. “Believe me, it would have been impossible for Yves to have given someone 300 sketches. Maybe one or two, but 300? Surely not,” Bergé told WWD . “The point is, they were stolen.”
Ludwig Geiger, a Swiss-based representative for the German businessman who claims to be the collection’s current owner, insists that Thomas legally transferred all rights and ownership to his client and that everything was done above board. “The collection was not stolen. Pierre Bergé told that story, but it is absolute nonsense. He knows very well it was not stolen,” Geiger said. “It’s bad theater, what they do.”
Bergé filed a police report last November claiming that the portfolio was stolen. He has allegedly been approached a number of times by a number of different parties - including Fabrice Thomas - about buying the works, but refuses to do so. “I am not willing to pay for something that was stolen. But I intend to empty every possibility I have to avoid any exhibitions and publication of the sketches,” he said.
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