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French auction chief Bergé dies

French fashion and art collector Pierre Bergé has died aged 86. The philanthropist had a long-term personal and business relationship with the famous fashion designer Yves St Laurent, who died in 2008.

Bergé, who ran his own auction firm Pierre Bergé and Associates, was one of the most highly regarded businessmen within the French cultural establishment.

Gallery legal battle at Supreme Court


The St James’s site of S Frances gallery.

Antique textile and tapestry specialist S Franses is taking its fight to stay in its St James’s gallery to the UK Supreme Court.

It has operated from the gallery for more than 25 years but its 15-year lease came to an end last year and landlord the Cavendish Hotel, run by The Ascott Limited, which is a subsidiary of Singapore’s CapitaLand, hoped to redevelop the space.

A number of court hearings have taken place debating the complex Landlord and Tenant Act 1954.

The dispute went to the London County Court earlier this year and S Franses lost. But, on appeal to the High Court during the summer, a judge granted the gallery a rare “leapfrog certificate” permitting it to apply directly to the UK Supreme Court on points of law.

US returns Saddam chess set to Iraq

An antique chess set once belonging to Saddam Hussein has been returned to Iraq by the US government. It had been stolen during the 2003 invasion.

The US Embassy in Baghdad announced the return via Facebook on September 2.

It is reported to have been located by the FBI as part of an ongoing effort to retrieve items stolen during the invasion. In 2003 the International Council of Museums issued an emergency warning on the smuggling of artefacts out of the country.

The details of how the set was stolen, what happened to it before its rediscovery and where it was in the US, are unknown.

Value of musical instruments rises

The value of musical instruments outpaced the investment in classic cars and fine art last year, according to a survey by private bank Coutts.

The investment index, called Objects of Desire, found the value of rare musical instruments rose 16.4% last year while classic cars fell by 10.4% and fine art by 6%.

Despite the figures for 2016, the index reveals classic cars remain the top-performing asset over 12 years, up over 330% in that time.

In Numbers


The asking price for a sculpture of Queen Victoria by Alfred Gilbert which the government has temporarily barred from export in the hope of finding a UK buyer.


A sculpture of Queen Victoria by Alfred Gilbert.

The report is compiled from sales data from firms including Sotheby’s Mei Moses, Fathom, Stanley Gibbons and Savills.

BADA targets the younger generation

The British Antiques Dealers’ Association (BADA) hopes to attract new members and young people to the world of art and antiques with a series of events.

Friends of the BADA Trust is launching a programme of events called At Home with the Dealers (the first will be on October 19) as well as a networking event for the younger generation in the trade.

The brainchild of Friends director Anne Green, the first networking event will take place on September 26 at Reindeer Antiques on Kensington Church Street.

The evening is designed for younger dealers, friends and anyone associated with the wider fine art and antiques community. Tickets are £10.

New faces in post-war and contemporary art at Bonhams

Bonhams announced three new appointments within its post-war and contemporary art department last week.

Chief among these is Ralph Taylor, who is now global head of the division. He previously worked at Sotheby’s and Lazarides Gallery and joined Bonhams in 2014. Since then he has led the UK’s post-war and contemporary art department from London.


Ralph Taylor joined Bonhams in 2014.

Meanwhile, Sharon Squires has been appointed senior director based in Los Angeles and Jacqueline Towers-Perkins has been announced as a specialist in New York.

The series of appointments has been made to further expand the department which Bonhams identifies as a particular area of strength in recent times.

Digital strategy ace ticks in at Phillips


Arthur Touchot, who is now Phillips’ head of digital strategy.

Phillips’ watch department has appointed a head of digital strategy.

Arthur Touchot, from online watch publication Hodinkee, will be based in Geneva for Phillips’ growing watch department, which is run in association with Aurel Bacs’ consultancy Bacs & Russo.

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