Sotheby's to sell playboy Gunter Sachs' collection

Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:59am EDT
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By Li-mei Hoang

LONDON (Reuters) - Billionaire playboy Gunter Sachs, once married to French actress Brigitte Bardot, felt so sorry for Andy Warhol when his works went unsold at a major European show that he secretly bought half the collection to make the artist feel better.

Works by Warhol are among the highlights of the German-born jet-setter's collection of some 300 paintings, photographs and pieces of furniture which will go on sale in May at Sotheby's in London and are set to raise 20 million pounds ($31 million).

Sachs, famous for his life in the fast lane and womanizing ways, first met Warhol in St Tropez, France in the early 1960s and they became lifelong friends.

The heir to the Opel car dynasty, Sachs presented the first major Warhol exhibition in Europe at his Hamburg gallery in 1972, but on opening night not a single picture sold.

Years later, Sachs jokingly thanked the people of Hamburg for passing on the opportunity to snap up Warhols, thereby enabling him to make one of the most commercially astute decisions of his life as a collector.

Sotheby's chairman of contemporary art in Europe, Cheyenne Westphal, called Sachs "one of the most visionary and influential collectors of the 20th century.

"Gunter Sachs collected extensively and in depth across many categories, and he very much believed that art should be lived with."

Sachs killed himself at his home in the Swiss resort of Gstaad last year aged 78, saying in a suicide note that he had been suffering from a "hopeless illness".   Continued...

Actor Gunter Sachs and his wife Mirja (L) arrive on the red carpet for the 61st Bambi media awards ceremony in Potsdam November 26, 2009. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz