Art and design from the collection of 20th-century golden boy Gunter Sachs will be auctioned in London this month.
Handsome, charismatic Sachs (1932-2011)—famed in his early days mostly as a wealthy international playboy and later as a photographer—passionately built a formidable collection over 50 years, often being the first to buy many of today’s most coveted artists. Among some 300 works at Sotheby’s in London May 22 and 23 will be paintings by such artists as Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana, Andy Warhol, Roy Liechtenstein, Tom Wesselmann and Mel Ramos, mixed with 20th-century furniture by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Diego Giacometti.
Sachs was known for his glamorous jet-setting lifestyle but Sotheby’s director Cheyenne Westphal, the auction house’s chair of contemporary art in Europe, said the works also reveal his “little-known side as one of the most visionary and influential collectors of the 20th century”.
By the late 60’s he was buying American Pop art by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselman. In 1972 he opened a gallery in Hamburg where he exhibited Warhol, who by then had become a good friend. When none of the works were sold at the opening, he went round the exhibition putting red stickers on half of them, buying them himself. It turned out to be a good decision.
Sachs became a friend of Warhol after the two met in St. Tropez in the early 1960s.
The sale also includes the 1959 photograph of Bardot by Richard Avedon on which the Warhol painting was based (£40,000 – £60,000).
Warhol’s painting of Bardot, commissioned by Sachs, was based on a 1959 Avedon picture of the French actress. One of the 35 original silver prints of the image is included in the sale, priced at 40,000 pounds to 60,000 pounds.
Sachs also bought a 1970 sculpture by Alain Gourdon who used Bardot as the model for a bust of Marianne, the French national emblem. It is estimated at £3,000–5,000.
British pop art is represented by the series of furniture sculptures using women in bondage outfits, by Allen Jones, which led to a feminist demonstration when they were exhibited (30,000 – 40,000 pounds each). Sachs kept them in his bedroom in St Moritz.
A 1961 painting by the French artist Yves Klein ‘Les Feu de l’enfer’ (The Fire of Hell) is estimated to fetch between £500,000 and £700,000. Klein famously used naked female models covered in paint as “living brushes”, by dragging them across the canvas.
A painting by the Italian artist Lucio Fontana’s ‘Concetto Spaziale’ series, 1961 is estimated at £700,000-900,000
He was best known as the last of the great playboys, famed for his jet-set lifestyle, a high-profile marriage to Brigitte Bardot and the vast inherited wealth that enabled him to indulge numerous passions that ranged from film-making to photography, collecting to motorcycling and astrology to riding the Cresta Run.
Bardot became the second of Sach’s three wives in 1966. The German auto heir and ex-bobsleigh champion courted the actress by flying over her Cote d’Azur home, La Madrague, in a helicopter and bombing it with red roses. The couple divorced three years later.
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