A little less than a year ago I wrote an auction preview for the first sale of La Bibliothèque de Pierre Bergé, which is the collection of French industrialist and co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent Couture House, Pierre Bergé, that is being auctioned off over a series of sales lasting into 2017. The first sale was a tremendous success, containing seven of Rare Book Hub’s top 50 most valuable auction lots of 2015. The material consistently topped high estimates, with two particularly shocking results being a drawing by Victor Hugo selling for over €500.000 after an initial estimate of €50.000-80.000 and a copy of Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal fetching €282.450 after an estimate of €40.000-60.000.
This month, in conjunction with Sotheby’s Paris, La Bibliothèque de Pierre Bergé is back for round two. The auction is set to take place November 8th and 9th and features 376 lots broken into four sections:
- Precursors, containing pre-romantic material, noir fiction, and material by the Marquis de Sade.
- Material by Gustave Flaubert.
- Modern material by realists and dreamers.
Highlights of the sale are numerous. The item with the single highest estimate is an autograph manuscript by Flaubert of Par les Champs et les Grèves (Voyage en Bretagne), an account of his travels in Britain with Maxime du Camp. The manuscript is heavily annotated and revised throughout, serving as Flaubert’s working copy, and carries an estimate of €400.000-600.000.
The collection of Bergé was amassed over fifty years, with an eye and a passion for the material that few, if any, possess. This fact, combined with a financial situation conducive to collecting allowed him to acquire the best of the best for subjects he focused on. The following items are but a few indicators of the quality of his collection:
- A first edition copy of Victor Hugo’s La Légende des Siècles and the only copy printed on vellum. Est. €60.000-80.000.
- Another copy of Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal, this one a better copy than the lot offered in the first sale. It was bound by Lortic, Baudelaire’s favorite binder and contains an inscription to Alcide-Pierre Grandguillot, chief editor of the Constitutionnel du Pays. Est. €100.000-150.000.
- A first edition of Arthur Schopenhauer’s Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, and the only known copy in private hands of the rare larger paper printing. Est. €40.000-60.000.
- A first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, one of 795 copies printed at the author’s expense and one of 599 bound in green cloth. Est. €40.000-50.000.
- A first edition of Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol, one of 30 large paper copies on Japan paper and contains a four page signed autograph letter by Wilde to his editor Leonard Smythers.
- A rare first trade edition of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment [in Russian] in its original first Russian binding. Est. €30.000-40.000.
- A first edition set of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace [in Russian], containing all six volumes. Est. €20.000-30.000.
I made mention in my preview of the first sale that there are a number of videos featuring Bergé discussing his collecting. They have been added to in the last eleven months and are very interesting. You can view them here.
The second sale of La Bibliothèque de Pierre Bergé takes place November 8 and 9, 2016 with both sessions at 2:00 PM CET at Hôtel Drouot in Paris. The entire catalog of 376 lots can be viewed here.