Saint Laurent Record Challenged by $82 Million Design-Art Sale

A 1920s black lacquer ``Brick'' screen, by Irish-born designer Eileen Gray, sold for 1.4 million euros in Paris. It was estimated to fetch between 1.2 million euros and 1.5 million euros at Christie's International's auction of the Gourdon Collection of 20th-century design, to be held in Paris on March 29 through March 31. Source: Christie's Images via Bloomberg

Eileen Gray will be among the names featured in a collection of 20th-century design that is estimated to sell for a record 60 million euros ($82 million) in Paris.

The three-day auction may exceed the total of 59.2 million euros set on Feb. 24, 2009, with the sale of Art Deco works owned by the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge. That auction, part of a three-day event, had a high estimate of 28.3 million euros and set a record for 20th-century decorative art. It transformed the market when Gray’s “dragons” armchair fetched a record 21.9 million euros.

The Gourdon Collection of Art Nouveau, Art Deco and modernist design will be sold by Christie’s International at the Palais de Tokyo on March 29-31, 2011. The 500 works are owned by French collector Laurent Negro, who has been buying 20th-century design since the 1990s. The pieces were put on display in a private museum at his medieval castle, the Chateau de Gourdon, near Grasse in Provence, in 2003, said Christie’s.

“He’s very private, knowledgeable and highly regarded,” London-based dealer Sean Berg said in an interview. “The collection is staggeringly good,” said Berg, who is selling 140 pieces of modernist design at Christie’s London tomorrow. The auction house would not say why Negro is selling.

“It’s just a personal decision,” Capucine Millot, Christie’s Paris-based head of public relations, said in an interview.

Negro has the same name as his father, who died in 1997 and was the founder of the temporary employment company, Bis SA which was taken over by Vendex International NV.

The Gourdon Collection includes 15 pieces by Irish-born Gray. Her 1920s black lacquer “Brick” screen and coated canvas “Transat” armchair are both estimated to sell for as much as 1.5 million euros.

A late 1920s black lacquer “Tardieu” writing desk, estimated at as much as 3 million euros, is one of 45 Art Deco pieces by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann included in the sale.

A unique games table designed by Jean Dunand in 1930 for the couturier Madeleine Vionnet is the most highly estimated lot, at 3 million euros to 5 million euros.

(Scott Reyburn writes for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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