Art from the estate of Gunter Sachs, the German billionaire former husband of Brigitte Bardot, has been sold for £35.6m at auction in London. The top lot was an Andy Warhol self-portraits, which sold for £5.4m and record breakers included a table by the British ‘Pop Artist’ Allen Jones which sold for nearly £1m ($1,533,943).
Other top Jones’ lots were for furniture created in 1969 around female fetish figures. ‘Table’ and ‘Chair’, were cast in fibreglass in editions of 6 by Gems Wax Models Ltd of Notting Hill, London, a firm of commercial sculptors who made (and make) shop window mannequins and sculptures for waxworks. Stylistically the figures are similar to those in Jones’s paintings of c.1967–8. For the figures Jones made working drawings from memory, not in front of a model. From these drawings a professional sculptor, Dick Beech of Gems Wax Models, produced clay figures under Jones’s direction; these clay figures were modified in accordance with his intentions. He wanted to make sculpture ‘without fine art marks, devoid of fine art clothing’. When the first, ‘Hatstand’, a standing figure, was finished he realized that it might be construed as a bizarre window mannequin and so he decided to process the figure so that it would not appear to be just a decorative object. This he did by giving the other two sculptures a more obvious function, that of being a table and a chair, so that the viewer’s expectation of what could be fine art would be questioned and allow the viewer to perceive the figure anew as a subject in art. The artist’s previous auction record was broken three times in quick succession. The “Hatstand” (all pieces 1969) sold for £780,450 ($1,185,711), the “Chair” for £836,450 ($1,321,591), and the “Table” £970,850 ($1,533,943) just short of the £1 million mark.
In Jones’s view ‘because these sculptures of women are recognisably representational it is less obvious that the sculpture is not about being naturalistic. They are not so much about representing woman but the experience of woman, not an illusion’. Jones has stated; ‘The erotic impulse transcends cerebral barriers and demands a direct emotional response. Confronted with an abstract statement people readily defer to an expert; but confronted with an erotic statement everyone is an expert. It seems to me a democratic idea that art should be accessible to everyone on some level, and eroticism in one such level’.
Gunter Sachs, who took his life last year aged 78, was married to French blonde bombshell actress Bardot in the 1960s. Bardot, now 77, said she was “devastated” to hear of his death.