Sale: 22nd May, 2012
At about this time last year Gunter Sachs pointed a gun at his head, shot and killed himself. ‘Farewell, Gunter Sachs,’ wrote Simon Mills in British GQ magazine, ‘You were the last of the true playboys. You slept with Bardot, your white trousers were tight, your hair was fabulous… and you never worked a single day in your life.’ Sachs, born in 1932, was 78 years old and probably had Alzheimer’s. The renowned German playboy who famously courted then married Brigitte Bardot – the 2nd of his three wives – in Las Vegas, contrary to the above, took his work as a photographer, documentary film-maker, author and industrialist seriously. Sachs left behind three sons – one from his first marriage, two from his third – and a sizeable collection of modern art, which will shortly go under the hammer at Sotheby’s, London.
While Sachs’ taste in women was narrow – they had to be glamorous and sexy – he was at various times closely associated with Iranian consort Soraya Esfandiary, as well as model Claudia Schiffer – the art he collected, at least in terms of genre, was catholic. The 300 artworks and objects to be sold span surrealism, nouveau realism, pop art, art deco and graffiti. Andy Warhol, César, Arman, Yves Klein, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Giacometti, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann and Allen Jones, are all represented. True to form, however, a good number of the pieces, portray nude or semi-nude women.
Sachs had met Andy Warhol – whose work he introduced to Germany – in the early 60s at St Tropez and the two became life long friends. He opened galleries in Munich and Hamburg in 1971. Referring to his father’s 1972 Warhol show, Sachs’ eldest son Rolf, in an interview with The Guardian, recalled: ‘Nothing sold. My father was highly embarrassed, and he bought most of the exhibition himself – which was of course the best investment he ever made.’
Gunter Sachs, 1972
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
Brigitte Bardot, Hair by Alexandre, Paris Studio,
Photographed in 1959
Gelatin silver print
Great American Nude #51, 1963
Oil and collage on canvas, in three parts