Paris's Crazy Horse Auction Tested the Market for Erotic Art, Including a Patriotic Bust of Brigitte Bardot
PARIS—French auction house Cornette de Saint Cyr's annual "pin-up" auction took place Sunday night at the Crazy Horse cabaret, with one scheduling snafu: French president Nicolas Sarkozy was holding a meeting just steps away on the Place de la Concorde, and the velvet-draped sales room was less full than in previous years because traffic complications kept some potential bidders away. But the titillating art was snapped up nevertheless. While works by the biggest-name artists — David LaChapelle and Helmut Newton — didn't find buyers, the sale still totaled €225,000 ($294,000), thanks especially to Internet bidders, who were very active below the €3,000 ($3,900) mark.
Two photographs by Francis Giacobetti, director of the softcore porn flick "Emmanuelle 2," sold for €12,500 ($16,350) and €16,250 ($21,250), meeting or slightly surpassing their estimates. There are only ten prints in existence of "Lignes 17," for which the photographer created black and white stripes over a naked woman's body using only lighting, with no editing or special effects. The style suited the location perfectly, since the Crazy Horse is famous for sophisticated lighting effects that sculpt the perfect bodies of its dancers. Last year, a photo by Guy Le Baube set an artist's record at this auction when it reached €25,000 ($32,700). This year, his photo "Eyelashes" sold for €7,500 ($9,800). Eric Neveu's "The 7 Legshow," a photograph of seven pairs of legs in neon stockings, fetched €6,875 ($9,000), on a well-placed estimate of €6,000-7,000.
Alain Aslan, a revered illustrator with a hyperrealist style who was responsible for the pin-up of the month in the magazine Lui from 1963-1981, had many works hitting the auction block again this year. His nude gouaches of actresses Catherine Deneuve and Sylvie Vartan (products of his imagination, of course) were a big hit last year. This time around, his plaster bust of Brigitte Bardot as the allegorical figure Marianne surpassed its high estimate of €2,000 ($2,600) to fetch €4,750 ($6,200). "Pin-Up Cyclist," a torrid drawing by Italian illustrator Milo Manara, a blue-chip artist in the genre, sold for €5,000 ($6,550), and "Visage" ("Face"), a painting by comic book artist Walter Minus, brought in the same sum.
To see images from the auction, click on the slide show.