The final premium-inclusive total for the entire sale series was just over €118m.
Contributors to the introductions to Christie’s auction catalogue talked of the blend of balance and harmony, refinement, elegance and comfort when describing the style of de Givenchy’s interiors.
Like the clothes for which the famous couturier was renowned, the settings he created in his homes with his partner Philippe Venet (1929-2019) emanated restrained sophistication. And there were a number of houses over the course of his long life including a succession of homes in Paris, a chalet in the Alps, an apartment in Venice and a manor house in the Eure et Loire department.
The de Givenchy look mixed old and new in a disciplined but comfortable blend that was able to incorporate classic antique furniture, modern art by the likes of the Giacomettis, Lalanne and Miró, 18th century silver and sculpture and 20th century upholstered furniture.
Back in 1993, a couple of years before he retired from the world of fashion, Christie’s held a sale of works from his collection in Monaco that realised over Fr155.5m. Then in 2017 a sale of his Giacomettis chalked up over €32.7m but this summer’s posthumous sale dwarfed both those in terms of money.
The contents were drawn from two of de Givenchy’s homes: the two-floor apartment at the Hôtel d’Orrouer in Paris and the Manoir du Jonchet, his house in the Loire valley that he acquired back in 1975.
This amounted to a total of 1229 lots which Christie’s offered in six auctions over a 16-day period. Four of these were live sales beginning with a late afternoon auction of 63 selected Masterpieces on June 14. Two sales of contents from the Hôtel d’Orrouer followed on the 15th and 16th with a sale of contents from the Manoir du Jonchet on the 17th. And two online-only sales of extra material from the two houses ran from June 8 to 22 and June 8 -23.
The lion’s share of the €118m total came from the first afternoon auction which contributed just a shade under €83m. And by extension it was this session that included most of the top prices. What was interesting about this event was that grand goût français 18th century furnishings (not deemed the most fashionable category) played as important a role as Modern and Contemporary art in achieving those figures.
Five of the top 10 prices were for 18th century furniture and decorative arts and the strong emphasis on 18th century furniture and objects continued throughout all the live auctions. With the bulk of the contents by volume offered after the first Masterpieces sale, plenty of other material was on offer across all categories and price points. This gave buyers ample opportunity to make their selection whether looking for classic antique pieces, later items in antique style, decorative objects of all ages or modern works.
Charles Cator, Christie’s International deputy chairman, knew de Givency well and wrote one of the forwards to the catalogue.
Following the results of the four live sales he said: “It was especially thrilling to see the extraordinary results – across all price levels – achieved for these wonderful furniture pieces Hubert de Givenchy appreciated so much.
“Having had the privilege of overseeing Christie’s other major sales of Hubert de Givenchy’s collection during his lifetime, this is the first on which I have worked without his invaluable guidance. It is my hope that the great couturier and collector would have been proud of our presentation of the extraordinary vision he created with Philippe Venet.”
£1 = €1.15
De Givenchy in numbers
• The auctions realised a total of €118,116,172 (£101,932,654) for 1229 lots
• The event attracted 10,000 visitors to the global exhibitions with 2000 registrants across the four live auctions
• The 14 June Hubert de Givenchy live auction had more than 1.3 million viewers worldwide
• The online sale had over 1000 registrants and tripled its low pre-sale estimate
• The sale featured bidders from 48 countries and buyers from 34 countries with 68% from EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), 27% Americas and 5% APAC (Asia-Pacific)
• 20 lots sold for over €1 million while five lots sold above €5 million