“Le siècle des lumières est aussi celui des couleurs lumineuses.” (“The Age of Enlightenment is also the age of luminous colors.”) This phrase by Karl Lagerfeld ran across the boxset containing the three catalogs from his sale at Christie’s in 2000. At the time, he was letting go of 150 paintings and nearly 400 pieces of furniture, tapestries, porcelains, and gilded bronzes from the Louis XV and Louis XVI periods. These treasures were all from the Hôtel Pozzo di Borgo, the grand house in Paris’s Faubourg Saint-Germain neighborhood where he lived for three decades. His love affair with the 18th century began at the age of seven, when he discovered a painting by Adolph von Menzel in a Hamburg antiques shop, depicting Frederick the Great receiving his friends, including Voltaire, at the Palais de Sanssouci. For Voltaire, this scene represented the ideal of refinement, and for Lagerfeld, it ignited his dream of becoming an aristocrat.
Pavillon de Voisins, Louveciennes, France
When he was 81, Lagerfeld decided to buy this bucolic residence on the edge of the Marly-le-Roi forest, not far from Paris. To transform it to his liking and equip it with every creature comfort, he undertook a gigantic renovation project that lasted four years. In the end, he only slept there one night. Nevertheless, he would often visit Louveciennes, sit in the music room, contemplate his collections, and then leave satisfied.
The house was filled with everything from Art Deco furniture and German posters from the early 20th century to creations by contemporary designers, a sort of compendium of all of Lagerfeld’s passions. The entire collection of 4,000 lots was sold by Sotheby’s in 2021 to pay off the debts of the designer’s estate, mostly back taxes.