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The auction will be held not in a Parisian saleroom but at the Grand Palais, the vast exhibition space used for such events as the Paris Biennale.

It will amount to more than 700 lots, the fruits of over half a century of collecting by the two men, and comprises the combined contents of Yves St Laurent’s and Pierre Bergé’s respective apartments in the Rue Babylone and Rue Bonaparte.

Yves St Laurent, the famous couturier who died earlier this year, bequeathed his joint share of the collection to the Pierre Bergé-Yves St Laurent Foundation, and Bergé has decided to put the entire collection up for sale and to create a new foundation dedicated mainly to scientific research and the fight against AIDS.

Described by Christie’s as “one of the most sumptuous private collections of our time”, and “one of the most significant collections of Modern Art still held in private hands today”, the three-day auction is expected to bring €200m-300m.

It will include Modern paintings, Art Deco, European furniture, works of art, antiquities, Old Masters and 19th century paintings and drawings.

By Anne Crane