The Curious Case of Yves Saint Laurent's Allegedly Stolen, Partially Erotic Sketches
On the heels of a news cycle that saw lukewarm reviews for Hedi Slimane's debut at Saint Laurent — and a very public fight between Slimane and critic Cathy Horyn — comes a controversial story that will likely command attention of a different sort. A catalog of some 400 items including sketches, journal pages, and photographs that once belonged to Yves Saint Laurent is at the center of an international legal battle led by Pierre Bergé, who says they were stolen.
The story was reported by WWD on Monday, but its roots date back to the early '90s, when Saint Laurent was in a romantic relationship with his driver, Fabrice Thomas. The relationship lasted about two years, and Thomas acquired the items over this period. After they split, an unnamed German businessman gave Thomas a job. According to a representative for this businessman, Thomas gave his new employer part of the catalog and sold him the rest as a display of gratitude. The businessman now plans to either auction or exhibit the drawings, over 100 of which are erotic in nature. The total collection's worth has been estimated at over $15 million.
Thomas is said to have offered Bergé the opportunity to buy the sketches back, but Saint Laurent's longtime business partner says he is "not willing to pay for something that was stolen," he said. "But I intend to empty every possibility I have to avoid any exhibitions and publication of the sketches."
Bergé is convinced the items were stolen from the Paris apartment he shared with Saint Laurent because of how many items are involved in the case. "Believe me, it would have been impossible for Yves to have given someone 300 sketches. Maybe one or two, but 300? Surely not," Bergé said. "The point is, they were stolen."
Whether he'll be able to get them back remains to be seen. In the meantime, a look at some of the sketches in the catalog here in the gallery.