Nearly 300 art works belonging to one of the most fun-loving of playboys, the late Gunter Sachs, are to be auctioned in London with a collective asking price of more than £20m.
Sachs was known for his glamorous jet-setting lifestyle but Sotheby’s director Cheyenne Westphal, the auction house’s chair of contemporary art in Europe, said the works also reveal his “little-known side as one of the most visionary and influential collectors of the 20th century”.
It was, she said, “among the most desirable single-owner collections ever to come to market”.
The collection includes pop art by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein; surrealist pieces by René Magritte, Salvador Dalí and Max Ernst; works by Arman and Yves Klein; and furniture by some of the world’s most revered cabinet-makers and designers including Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Louis Majorelle.
The sale will include works depicting his second wife Brigitte Bardot, over whose house he dropped 1,000 red roses from a helicopter hours after meeting her.
There will be Warhol’s 1974 silkscreen portrait of Bardot – estimated at up to £4m – as well as Richard Avedon’s source photograph from 1959, a limited edition print estimated at £40,000-£60,000.
Sachs killed himself at his Gstaad chalet last year aged 78, leaving a note explaining he would rather die than live with a “hopeless” illness.
It followed a life many would envy. Sachs inherited his billions from his mother, a member of the Opel car dynasty and his father, co-owner of one of Germany’s biggest car parts suppliers.
Sachs put his money to the pursuit of pleasure, once boasting that he never “worked a day in my life.” Ruggedly handsome – they called him “Sexy” Sachs in the sixties – he could be the epitome of playboyishness, living life in a whirl of jets, beautiful women and champagne. He once turned up at a party dressed as Kaiser Wilhelm and he was chairman of the St Moritz bobsleigh club.