SELLING UP: Alexandre de Betak is having the mother of all moving sales.
As the fashion show producer prepares to settle into his new Paris home next summer with his wife Sofia Sanchez de Betak and their baby daughter Sakura, he is auctioning off a lifetime’s collection of design objects ranging from a Darth Vader bust to a neon portrait of Gisele Bündchen.
Friends including Antoine Arnault and Natalia Vodianova, Christian Louboutin, Rick Owens and Michèle Lamy, Blanca Li and Bruno Frisoni flocked to Paris auction house Piasa to view the 188 lots that will go under the hammer on March 28 in the sale, titled “Alexandre de Betak, My Parisian Interior Art + Design.”
“This is the first time I’m selling anything. I’ve always collected thinking I would keep things my whole life. There are people who buy shares in order to leave a heritage. I always said I would leave kinetic art and design,” Betak said ruefully.
He started collecting Japanese robots in his teens, later graduating to furniture and kinetic art by the likes of Joel Stein and Marcello Morandini — not to mention lamps, lamps and more lamps. By his own admission, things were getting a little crowded.
“I had all of this at home,” Betak said. “I hung some of the kinetic art on the ceiling because I had nowhere else to put it.”
Like most collectors, he was driven by the hunt for the rare. “There’s no financial motive behind this collection. I buy the things I love and above all, things that are hard to find,” he explained. A case in point: a trio of works from the Fifties by Frank Malina, whose career as a rocket scientist has tended to eclipse his art.
“I’ve probably been pretty obsessed by light and by movement, hence my penchant for kinetic art. I channel that into my job, because that’s what I do: I try to use light and movement, among other elements, to showcase collections through the fashion shows and events that I design,” he explained.
“There’s nothing neutral in this collection. Everything is very, very strong, and at the same time, it really fits together, even though there’s a century’s difference between the oldest and the most recent pieces,” Betak added.
Star lots include an example of Stein’s lighting work “Trièdre à 9 cellules,” which has an estimate of 20,000 euros to 30,000 euros. Betak noted there is another copy in the collection of the Pompidou Center for contemporary art in Paris.
He is also selling his own designs for the first time, with pieces ranging from prototype bookcases to the aforementioned Bündchen piece, one of six produced for a Victoria’s Secret event, which is estimated at 15,000 euros to 20,000 euros.
While feeling wistful about scattering the objects, Betak is already poised to start a new collection: on his radar right now is everything from Baroque to Brutalism.
“I hope the sale does well, which will give me wings to start over. They say it’s therapeutic. For the time being, I’m still feeling nostalgic – I’m not feeling the therapy so far. Right now, I’m walking among the pieces and bidding them goodbye,” he said.