May 23, 2012 / 8:52 PM / in 7 years

Gunter Sachs' collection fetches $65.5 million at auction

(Reuters) - One of Andy’s Warhol’s last self-portraits was the top selling item in a two-day sale in London of about 300 paintings, photographs and furniture from the collection of billionaire Gunter Sachs, which totalled more than $65.5 million (41.7 million pounds).

Employees of Sotheby's auctioneers adjust an acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas portrait of German-born business man Gunter Sachs (1932-2011) from 1972 by late U.S. artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987) before an auction preview in Zurich April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

“Self Portrait (Fright Wig), done by Warhol in 1986, sold for almost $8.5 million, more than double its pre-sale estimate, Sotheby’s said on Wednesday.

Another Warhol work, “Flowers,” which had been in the collection since it was purchased in 1979, fetched nearly $6 million.

“Gunter Sachs’ standing as a 1960s and 1970s taste-maker was evident from the announcement of the sale through to its conclusion this afternoon,” said Cheyenne Westphal, chairman of contemporary art Sotheby’s Europe. “Clients from across the globe responded enthusiastically to Gunter Sachs’ resonance as aesthete seen in the fact that bidders in the evening auction came from 17 countries across four continents.”

Sachs, the German-born heir to the Opel car dynasty and a renowned jet-setter, killed himself last year in the Swiss resort of Gstaad at the age of 78. French actress Brigitte Bardot was his second wife.

He also was married to Anne-Marie Faure and is survived by his third wife, Swedish former model Mirja Larsson and his three sons.

Sachs, who was a life-long friend of Warhol’s after meeting the artist in France in early 1960s, presented Warhol’s first exhibition in Europe in Hamburg in 1972. None of the pictures sold on opening night.

Years later, Sachs jokingly thanked the residents of the city for passing up the opportunity, thereby enabling him to make one of the most commercially astute decisions of his life as a collector.

One of Sachs’ own photographs called “Ascot” sold for $323,495, a record for him as a photographer.

Buyers from Asia, Europe, Russia and the United States drove up prices at the auction. Nearly a quarter of the lots on sale fetched more than $1.5 million.

Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Additional reporting by Li-mei Hoang and Mike Collett-White, editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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