Yves Saint Laurent and Betty Catroux in Marrakech

FANTASY SHOPPING: A chair designed by Hedi Slimane, original sketches by Giorgio Armani and Alber Elbaz, a signed portrait of Marisa Berenson — these are just some of the prestigious lots being auctioned off to benefit staff at French retirement homes, which have been sharply hit by the coronavirus epidemic.

Journalist Laurence Benaïm, known for her definitive biography of Yves Saint Laurent, pulled together the auction in just one week, tapping her high-profile industry contacts for exceptional donations.

In addition to precious objects, the sale offers plenty of the kind of experiences one can only dream of in lockdown: private visits of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Paris, the headquarters of Kering in Paris, the Château de Versailles and the Château de la Colle Noire — the latter courtesy of Dior Parfum.

Or how about a writing workshop on memory with award-winning writer Leïla Slimani, a lesson in baking macaroons with pastry chef Pierre Hermé, or a photograph of Saint Laurent and his muse Betty Catroux, signed by Catroux herself?

The virtual auction, to take place from April 21 to 27, will benefit charity SOS EHPAD, a nonprofit organization supported by the Alzheimer Research Foundation and its founding president, Dr. Olivier de Ladoucette, a psychiatrist and a geriatrician.

A chair designed by Hedi Slimane

A chair designed by Hedi Slimane  Courtesy Photo

Its mission is to support the staff of nursing homes as they deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, which has claimed a large number of elderly victims, who have been isolated from their families during the lockdown.

SOS EHPAD has pledged to remit 100 percent of the money raised to provide protective equipment, supplies and meals for staff, in addition to services like babysitting, taxis and hotel rooms near nursing homes.

There will be no costs for either buyers or sellers in the auction, though lots will only be delivered at a later date. The sales catalogue will be available on tajan.com, invaluable.com, auction.fr and drouotonline.com from April 21.

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