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Yves Saint Laurent Art Auction

Matisse, Picasso, Mondrian, Brancusi and even Louis XV were just a few of the big names at the Grand Palais in Paris last week. These may seem like hard economic times, but the money is still out there: Christie's raised nearly $500 million in its auction of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent's personal art collection.

  • Yves Saint Laurent holds up a drawing of the cocktail-dress design that won him first prize in a 1953 fashion drawing competition in Paris. His success in the contest led to his job with the Christian Dior team of designers.
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    Yves Saint Laurent holds up a drawing of the cocktail-dress design that won him first prize in a 1953 fashion drawing competition in Paris. His success in the contest led to his job with the Christian Dior team of designers.
    AP Photo
  • Laurent stands on one leg, his favorite position, as he studies a new design in his atelier in Paris. Laurent reworked the rules of fashion by putting women into elegant pantsuits that came to define how modern women dressed.
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    Laurent stands on one leg, his favorite position, as he studies a new design in his atelier in Paris. Laurent reworked the rules of fashion by putting women into elegant pantsuits that came to define how modern women dressed.
    AP Photo
  • A view of the Grand Palais in Paris on Monday during the auction by Christie's. The auction grossed a record $484 million over three days.
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    A view of the Grand Palais in Paris on Monday during the auction by Christie's. The auction grossed a record $484 million over three days.
    Jacques Brinon/AP
  • Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose by French artist Henri Matisse earned the highest bid at $45.3 million.
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    Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose by French artist Henri Matisse earned the highest bid at $45.3 million.
    Remy de la Mauviniere/AP
  • "When we provide buyers with quality works of art, the buyers are there," said Pierre Berge, Laurent's longtime partner.
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    "When we provide buyers with quality works of art, the buyers are there," said Pierre Berge, Laurent's longtime partner.
    Jacques Brinon/AP
  • Instruments de Musique sur un Gueridon by Pablo Picasso was thought to be one of the most sought-after paintings of the 733-piece collection, but the painting failed to sell.
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    Instruments de Musique sur un Gueridon by Pablo Picasso was thought to be one of the most sought-after paintings of the 733-piece collection, but the painting failed to sell.
    Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
  • People view some of the pieces that made up the eclectic collection of late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent at the Grand Palais where the "auction of the century" took place this week.
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    People view some of the pieces that made up the eclectic collection of late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent at the Grand Palais where the "auction of the century" took place this week.
    Remy de la Mauviniere/AP
  • Posters in Beijing advertise the disputed bronze fountainheads, including the heads of a rat and a rabbit that were part of Laurent's collection, that disappeared from China's Summer Imperial Palace in 1860.
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    Posters in Beijing advertise the disputed bronze fountainheads, including the heads of a rat and a rabbit that were part of Laurent's collection, that disappeared from China's Summer Imperial Palace in 1860.
    Elizabeth Dalziel/AP
  • A Christie's employee stands in front of a 1904 tapestry by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones and a 1st-2nd century marble torso.  Berge said he would use a large portion of the $484 million to support AIDS research.
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    A Christie's employee stands in front of a 1904 tapestry by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones and a 1st-2nd century marble torso. Berge said he would use a large portion of the $484 million to support AIDS research.
    Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
  • A pair of French carved wooden busts from the 18th century stand next to Frans Hals' Portrait d'homme tenant un livre.
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    A pair of French carved wooden busts from the 18th century stand next to Frans Hals' Portrait d'homme tenant un livre.
    Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
  • Laurent's collection was one of the world's greatest private collections consisting of masterpieces by Picasso, Mondrian and Matisse, art deco gems, bronzes, enamels and other rare antiques.
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    Laurent's collection was one of the world's greatest private collections consisting of masterpieces by Picasso, Mondrian and Matisse, art deco gems, bronzes, enamels and other rare antiques.
    Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

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Some came to buy, or just to admire, but others came in protest. Despite public demonstrations and objections from the Chinese government, two rare Qing dynasty sculptures that had disappeared from China nearly 150 years ago were sold for $18 million each to anonymous bidders.

Laurent, who revolutionized women's fashion with the introduction of the stylish pantsuit, died last June at the age of 71. His partner, Pierre Berge, who organized the auction, said that a percentage of the money raised would be allocated for AIDS research. Read more.

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