It’s called Paris. If Karl Lagerfeld’s had been alive this month, he would have laughed at what has been going on at Sotheby’s in Monaco and Paris. He was as famous for being a pop culture icon as he was for being a fashion star.
In his mind, objects are there for a reason. People shouldn’t become slaves to them, says Pierre Mothes, vice president of Sotheby’s in France.
In the past, he didn’t want to be buried in a mausoleum like a pharaoh. A few years ago, he told me: “I don’t want to be the conservator of my own things.”
That’s not the case at all. A series of three auctions of more than 1,200 items that were taken from Karl Lagerfeld’s five homes in and around Paris and Monaco has shown that his fans don’t have any problems with that.
“Karl’s taste and photographic eye made a lot of people want to own a piece of his personal universe, said Mr. Mothes, who is also the sale’s curator and head auctioneer. He likened the sales to “a luxurious yet streamlined picture of Karl Lagerfeld’s universe at the end of his life.” This is what the sales are like.
First, 1,400 people signed up to bid on 582 lots, which included sketches, memorabilia, and personal items. There were also pieces of Art Deco furniture and modern art by artists like Takashi Murakami, Joana Vasconcelos, and Jeff Koons. Plus, there is a Rolls-Royce Phantom as well.
As originally thought, the auction closed with €12 million ($13.3 million) in sales. At one point, a set of five pairs of Chanel fingerless leather gloves sold for €48,260 ($54,680).
A man named Mothes said that “those are really an emblematic accessory.” They are part of a manga-like image that has been passed down thru time.
For Mr. Lagerfeld, the curator said, “wearing them was a kind of courtesy from the 18th century, where you don’t show off your age to other people.” So you can draw. It is also a way to keep your hands free, so you can do that. These, along with the sunglasses and slim-cut jackets, are what everyone knows about him.
There was supposed to be a public show and then an invitation-only party at Sotheby’s headquarters on the Rue du Faubourg-Saint Honoré in Paris. Because of concerns about the Omicron variant, however, the meeting was reduced in size and took place earlier in the day because it was too big to fit everyone in.
Even so, there was still music. At a party that was both celebratory and quiet, Thomas Roussel played “The Frozen Garden,” an original soundtrack for the Chanel fall 2011 show at the Grand Palais. Claude Debussy wrote “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.” Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui made a choreography for the dancers to do.
In the middle, DJ Michel Gaubert, who worked on the soundtracks for many of Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel shows, kept the crowd moving thru the more than 200 lots spread out over three floors. There were modern furniture pieces from Karl Lagerfeld’s estate, as well as a few sartorial oddities (like a stack of Emgès shirt collars on a glass globe on a base with electric lights).
People were able to bid on December 14. Some people in the audience were dressed up in furs and high heels or formal business clothes, but most of them were in jeans. Some of the seats in the room were still empty, but in an hour and a half, the Paris sale had already made $2 million on 37 lots. People were most interested in a mirror by Martin Szekely called “Soleil Noir” that Lagerfeld bought from Galerie Kreo in Paris. It sold for €375,500 ($423,620), which is a record for the artist.
A paper cutout of Karl Lagerfeld’s face sold for €32,760 ($36,958), which was only a little less than a huge, 44-arm Louis XV-style chandelier made of cut crystal and gilded bronze that dates back to 1800.
In the same way, a Dior Homme jacket from winter 2008, made of black wool with a broken glass pattern in PVC, sold for €35,280 ($39,801). An auction record for a Chanel bag was set when a tote made of black lambskin with black crocodile-embossed crocodile leather sold for €94,500 ($106,610). The bag had a photo ID pass for the 2011 FIAC contemporary art show and a tag from Chanel’s Paris-Bombay Métiers d’Art show.
“Karl’s world is very luxurious, but it also has a lot of things that we use every day,” Mr. Mothes said. “People connect with that, and they’re grabbing up pieces as if he were a rock star,” says the teacher.
In addition, he said, “Karl was the last saint of his time.” “There is no way to say that.”
Sales of €6.2 million (about $7 million) were made in Paris on December 16. In March, the third and last sale in the series will be in Cologne, Germany. Proceeds from the sale will go to Mr. Lagerfeld’s estate, which is being run from Monaco. Rumors say his cat, Choupette, was one of the main beneficiaries. The names of the people who got money are kept secret.