Pierre Bergé was a lover, trustworthy person, patron and businessman: for half a century the entrepreneur and art lover has accompanied the life and career of Yves Saint Laurent. Together they founded the famous fashion house, which bears the name of the designer. Together they experienced ups and downs. His life was empty since the death of Yves, Bergé said after Saint Laurent had died in 2008. Now the multimillionaire Bergé died at the age of 86 years in his house in Provence after the consequences of a long illness, as the foundation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent on Friday communicated.
Bergé and six-year-old Yves Saint Laurent became acquainted with each other at the end of the 1950s. For five decades they shared life with each other. Bergé was first a lover, then a friend and companion, always a manager and a clever entrepreneur. Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent belonged to the legendary couples of Paris, as did Jean Marais and Jean Cocteau.
Without Bergé the career of the designer might have been less steep. He had not “made” Yves Saint Laurent because one would not make “artists”, Bergé explained, if one put too much emphasis on his person in the career of the fashion creator. One could accompany a genius only, he said in an interview with the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”.
Bergé, however, has worked tirelessly on the career of his lover and the reputation of the global brand YSL. Even beyond his death. In a few weeks, on 3 October, a museum will be opened in Paris in the former studio of the designer in Avenue Marceau. Two weeks later, a second Yves Saint Laurent museum is to be opened in Marrakech, another former residence. The 4,000-square-meter new building is located near the Jardin Majorelle garden, both bought in 1980 and where Yves Saint Laurent’s ashes were scattered.
The two museums will feature some 5000 creations and countless sketches by the fashion creator. At the press conference in Paris a few months ago, Bergé was still sitting in a wheelchair.
Bergé was a passionate art lover. Together with Yves Saint Laurent, he has brought together one of the largest private art collections in Europe. After Saint Laurent’s death, Bergé auctioned parts of it spectacularly in the Parisian Grand Palais. The event was celebrated in the form of a century: 700 objects were exchanged for 373.9 million euros. His own auction house, Pierre Bergé & Associés, with stores in Brussels and London, founded the business man born on the Atlantic island of Ile d’Oléron in 2001.
As a patron, he contributed some 3.5 million euros to the renovation of the house of Jean Cocteau. The property of the French writer, painter, and director lies in Milly-la-Fôret, some 50 kilometers southeast of Paris. He also supported the reconstruction of the Émile Zola house into a museum, the theatrical works by Robert Wilson, and the literary work of Peter Brook.
His interest in theater and literature was no coincidence. In 1977, he bought the Paris Théâtre de l’Athenée, which he directed until 1982 before giving it to the French state. As a lover of music, the friend of the Socialist President François Mitterrand took over the head of the newly built Bastille Opera in 1989, the director of which remained until 1994.
Behind the beauties, an entrepreneur hid from the fact that he had conducted his business with an iron hand. He was co-owner of the daily newspaper «Le Monde», the weekly magazine «L’Obs», co-financier of the Gay magazine «Têtu», founded in 1995, and co-founder of the now set up monthly magazine “Globe”.
He had never made a secret of his homosexuality. Freimuth also belonged to his character qualities. He said he was homosexual, as he was left-handed. (DPA)