French film legend Alain Delon auctions off artworks
(news.sawf.org) - The most expensive work, a large 1954 painting by Jean-Paul Riopelle titled "La vallee de l'oiseau" (The Valley of the Bird), sold for 882,740 euros (1.25 million dollars), or 750,000 euros (1.06 million dollars) excluding fees, the Cornette de Saint-Cyr auction house said.
An untitled 1950 painting by Pierre Soulages sold for 781,976 euros following a long battle between telephone bidders, while Karel Appel's "La famille" (The Family) went for 658,820 euros (936,000 dollars).
"It's a success, the paintings were rare and beautiful. We sold to China, Venezuela, the United States, everywhere in Europe," said auctioneer Arnaud Cornette de Saint-Cyr, whose father Pierre is one of Delon's oldest friends.
Bidding farewell to the 40 oils from the 1950s -- including works by Hartung, De Stael and Soulages -- a smiling Delon on Thursday night said to AFP: "Why be sad, given it was me that decided they go?"
Delon, an art-lover and keen collector over the last four decades, was accompanied by his 17-year-old daughter Annouchka as he gave the works a last lookover.
Delon refused further comment on why he was selling off part of a wider collection hung in his homes in France and Switzerland, spanning the 17th-20th centuries.
Pierre Cornette de Saint-Cyr said the decision to part with treasures from the Cobra and Ecole de Paris schools followed the recent deaths of other French film stars Jean-Claude Brially, Philippe Noiret and Michel Serrault.
Faced with the notion that his cherished possessions could be sold off one by one some day, "He said 'I can't bear to imagine a sale of the Delon inheritance'," said the auctioneer.
Delon bought his first work of art in 1964, shortly after starring in Luchino Visconti's film "The Leopard." It was a 17th century sketch by painter Micco Spadaro.
Other sketches in his collection, bought with advice from Cornette de Saint-Cyr and others, include a Van Gogh as well as one of the last Durer's on the market.
He bought oils by Millet, Delacroix and Gericault as well as Bugatti sculptures and his 1950s abstracts.
Buyers in the auction included museums in northern Europe as well as collectors in Russia and Britain.