Pierre Cornette de Saint Cyr

Pierre Cornette de Saint Cyr die on August 20, 2023, aged 84.

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He founded the French auction house Cornette de Saint-Cyr in 1973, which he sold to Bonhams last year.

Bonhams said “his name will forever be associated with introducing the first Contemporary Chinese art, photography and comic art sales in France”.

Among the auctions he led were the collection of abstract paintings belonging to French actor Alain Delon (2007); the estate of the painter Foujita (2011-13); furniture from the Hotel Royal Monceau (2008) and the Couture Collection belonging to Hélène Rochas (2016).

Following the launch of his auction house Pierre was later joined by his two eldest sons, Arnaud and Bertrand.

Arnaud, chairman of Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr alongside Bertrand, director of valuations, said: "My father was a luminous, enthusiastic man who taught us passion, courtesy and love of others. His commitment to contemporary art guided his life, from his first sales to his presidency of the Palais de Tokyo. A tireless discoverer, he kept his youthful curiosity intact right to the end.”

Charismatic figure

Bruno Vinciguerra, CEO of Bonhams, added: "Pierre Cornette de Saint Cyr was one of the most emblematic and charismatic figures in the art market for decades. His humanity and enthusiasm will be missed by all of us at Bonhams and the art market as a whole. Our thoughts are with his wife, children and family at this difficult time.” 

Pierre was born on January 1, 1939, in Meknès, Morocco. A collector of old drawings and photographs, he studied to become an engineer before taking up the profession of auctioneer.

He was chairman of the Palais de Tokyo Association from 2003-12 and was also the author of several books, including L'art c'est la vie: Souvenirs d'un commissaire-priseur (Editions Michel Lafon 2004).