BERGE’S BOOKENDS: If reading is the key to enlightenment, Pierre Bergé sure had a lot of books to spark his intelligence.
Sotheby’s Paris will hold the fourth auction for a selection of books from Bergé’s personal collection on Dec. 14. Several choice lots are on view at Sotheby’s New York office through Saturday, and they illustrated the myriad interests of the late French business titan: botany, gardens, philosophy, activism and more. The upcoming auction is expected to drum up between 5 million euros and 6 million euros, according to a Sotheby’s spokeswoman.
Literature, the 19th century and music were among the areas of interest covered in prior sales, with the first auction having been held nearly three years ago.
The December sale includes such highlights as Bartholomeus Anglicus’ “Le Propriétaire des choses,” circa 1486. This complete copy of a major medieval encyclopedia is illustrated with 19 large woodcuts, all hand-colored at that time. Bidders will also find Gustave Flaubert’s “Salammbô” from 1863, a first edition that was inscribed by Flaubert to the composer Hector Berlioz.
Another reading relic is Leonhart Fuchs’ “De historia stirpium commentarii insignes” from 1542 that is considered to be the founding treatise of modern botany. The auction house will also be selling Helvétius’ “De l’esprit” from 1758, a first edition, first issue, and a large paper copy luxuriously bound at that time for the author’s wife, Anne-Catherine de Ligniville.
Bibliophiles will have the option of Michel de Montaigne’s “Les Essais” from 1580, Marcel Proust’s “Du côté de chez Swann” from 1913 and Oscar Wilde’s “Salomé” from 1893. The latter was inscribed by Wilde to his “cher ami” — the French novelist André Gide.