Karl Lagerfeld is having over 1,000 possessions auctioned
19th November 2021

There’s a sale on at Lagerfeld! If you have up to £350,000 for everything from eel skin gloves to his cat’s scratching pad, the designer’s treasures are being auctioned off

  • Designer Karl Lagerfeld, who died aged 85 in February 2019, is having over 1,000 of possessions auctioned 
  • The items are being sold by Sotheby’s to showcase his extraordinary life in Monaco and France next month
  • They include antique furniture, scrapbooks and even memorabilia belonging to his beloved cat, Choupette

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy endures not just through his iconic clothes, but also his belongings, because Chanel’s creative director, who died aged 85 in 2019, was an ardent collector.

Now many of those possessions, once housed across Lagerfeld’s five properties in Paris, Versailles and Monaco, are being sold by Sotheby’s to showcase his extraordinary life. Some 1,100 lots were made public yesterday, ahead of auctions in Monaco and France next month.

Providing a fascinating insight into the mind of one of the greatest designers of modern times, they include furniture, scrapbooks and even memorabilia belonging to his beloved cat, Choupette, who Lagerfeld once said he loved so much he would marry her if the law allowed.

Designer Karl Lagerfeld (pictured), who died aged 85 in February 2019, was an ardent collector. Now many of those possessions, once housed across Lagerfeld’s five properties in Paris, Versailles and Monaco, are being sold by Sotheby’s to showcase his extraordinary life

‘The estate executor decided to do a sale as a tribute to Karl Lagerfeld as a creator,’ says Pierre Mothes, Sotheby’s senior director and head of the sale, who adds that the lots, which are expected to range in price from £8.40 for Choupette’s scratching pad to £336,000 for a favourite Rolls-Royce, explain Lagerfeld’s ‘way of life’ and ‘taste for design’.

The Mail was given an exclusive preview of items up for auction . . .

£300k Rolls he didn’t drive   

STARTING PRICE: £294,000 – £336,000

One of three Rolls-Royce cars up for auction, this metallic open-top Phantom model is the most expensive lot in the auction.

‘It was his favourite vehicle, especially during spring and summer. He loved it as an open car,’ says Mothes. Not that Lagerfeld appears to have driven the saloon much, however, having suffered two ‘terrible accidents’ in his youth that made him fearful of going behind the wheel.

One of three Rolls-Royce cars up for auction, this metallic open-top Phantom model (pictured) is the most expensive lot in the auction

‘It was in a Jag and a Mercedes. I fell asleep twice. I was not a good driver,’ he said. After that he appreciated the vehicles more for their aesthetic value. ‘I love beautiful cars — I like them as objects,’ he said.

The one thing he said he couldn’t travel without? ‘Private jets, I am afraid.’ 

Steps to his 15,000 ‘horizontal’ books  

STARTING PRICE: £1,685 – £2,527

These part leather-lined library steps, thought to date from the early 20th century, helped Lagerfeld access the astonishing collection of books he kept in the library of his sumptuous Paris apartment, at 8 Rue des Saint-Pères.

Mothes says he housed about 15,000 volumes here, out of a total collection estimated at 300,000, making it one of the world’s largest personal libraries.

These part leather-lined library steps, thought to date from the early 20th century, helped Lagerfeld access the astonishing collection of books he kept in the library of his sumptuous Paris apartment, at 8 Rue des Saint-Pères

Lagerfeld, who claimed to ‘read three books at the same time’, stored his floor-to-ceiling collection on their sides, so he didn’t have to tilt his perfectly-coiffed head in order to read the titles. His collection is all numbered, and it is not yet known what will happen to it.

‘This will be considered after the December sales,’ says Mothes.

Embroidered cotton cushions for a very pampered kitty   

STARTING PRICE: £84 – £126

Lagerfeld was so enthralled by his cat Choupette, he reportedly left her a sizable chunk of his £178 million fortune.

‘There is no marriage, yet, for human beings and animals . . . I never thought that I would fall in love like this with a cat,’ said Lagerfeld, who provided Choupette with two maids of her own, caviar served on fine china and private jet travel. 

Lagerfeld’s beloved cat Choupette — now living with Lagerfeld’s former housekeeper — slept on these custom-made white pillows, embroidered with ‘Ici c’est la place du chat’

Also auctioned is her cardboard scratcher at a modest £8.40-£16.80 (pictured)

Choupette — now living with Lagerfeld’s former housekeeper — slept on these custom-made white pillows, embroidered with ‘Ici c’est la place du chat.’ 

Also auctioned is her cardboard scratcher at a modest £8.40-£16.80, although Mothes believes it will fetch more: ‘That really is the most iconic object of Choupette and will create some surprise, for sure.’

Alligator classic with bags of style

STARTING PRICE: £1,600 – £3,200

A coveted lambskin-lined Chanel alligator tote, made in 2010 and used by the designer himself, this bag comes with Lagerfeld’s pass for a contemporary arts show in 2011 attached.

A coveted lambskin-lined Chanel alligator tote (pictured), made in 2010 and used by the designer himself, this bag comes with Lagerfeld’s pass for a contemporary arts show in 2011 attached

‘This bag is iconic for us,’ says Mothes. ‘He loved big bags. He thought tote bags were very convenient.’ 

It will be one of the most coveted items for Lagerfeld fans familiar with his maxim: ‘Luxury bags make your life more pleasant, make you dream, give you confidence, and show your neighbours you’re doing well.’

Sparkling zebra print for the dieting director 

STARTING PRICE: £1,700 – £3,360

Perhaps mindful that Lagerfeld’s favourite colour ‘couple’ was black and white, his friend Saint Laurent made this specially commissioned jacket for him, incorporating velvet, metal, silver sequins, beads and even plastic into the design.

This zebra-print jacket (pictured) was commissioned by Lagerfeld’s friend, Yves Saint Laurent, who incorporated velvet, metal, silver sequins, beads and even plastic into the design.

The jackets up for auction range in size (this one is a 50in) — Lagerfeld lost 6st 7lb in 2001 after eschewing sugar, cheese and bread. ‘I’m like the animals in the forest,’ he said with typical irreverent humour. ‘They don’t touch what they cannot eat.

Piano with hints of a troubled past

STARTING PRICE: £8,400-£12,600

This mahogany Art Deco piano designed by Louis Sue and Andre Mare was kept in Lagerfeld’s 19th-century mansion in Louveciennes near Paris, once owned by poet Leconte de Lisle. 

This mahogany Art Deco piano (picture) designed by Louis Sue and Andre Mare was kept in Lagerfeld’s 19th-century mansion in Louveciennes near Paris, once owned by poet Leconte de Lisle

‘It meant something that the house had once belonged to a poet,’ says Mothes of Lagerfeld. ‘Because of its origin he bought the house very quickly.’

Lagerfeld learnt to play the piano as a child. ‘He was a young kid and his mother pushed the piano lid on his hands and said, “please draw, it will make less noise,” ’ says Mothes. ‘She discouraged him, saying he was not a good player.’

Gift that draws on friendship 

STARTING PRICE: £1,600-£2,600

This 1978 pencil sketch, by Lagerfeld’s friend and fellow designer Yves Saint Laurent, is thought to be a portrait of Lagerfeld.

The pair had become close in 1954 after Lagerfeld, then 21, who’d moved to Paris from Germany as a teenager, won the best coat category at the prestigious Woolmark Prize. Saint Laurent, 18, won best dress design.

This 1978 pencil sketch (pictured), by Lagerfeld’s friend and fellow designer Yves Saint Laurent, is thought to be a portrait of Lagerfeld.

In the 1970s, Saint Laurent had an affair with Lagerfeld’s long-term partner, Jacques de Bascher. ‘Of course I knew about the affair,’ Lagerfeld later said. ‘I had been close friends with Yves for more than 20 years.’

Rivalry returned in 1984, after Lagerfeld joined Chanel, when he witheringly described Saint Laurent as ‘very provincial’. 

Sweet dreams in a mellow yellow bed fit for a king

STARTING PRICE: £8,400 – £12,600

Once an avid collector of 18th-century décor and artwork, Lagerfeld auctioned off his collection through Christie’s in 2000, netting around £20 million, so that he could surround himself with more contemporary furniture. 

The only antique item he kept was this 1770 bed, with a carved frieze and covered with yellow silk.

Once an avid collector of 18th-century décor and artwork, Lagerfeld auctioned off his collection through Christie’s in 2000. The only antique item he kept was this 1770 bed (pictured)

‘Because it was huge, he kept it in his country house,’ says Mothes, who adds that while Lagerfeld probably hung on to the bed for nostalgic reasons, he also believed ‘changing is not betraying. 

He wanted to be a man of his time’. Indeed, as Lagerfeld himself put it: ‘I try not to be sentimental and obsessive about possessions. I love collecting, but I hate owning.’ 

Fickle taste over a light fantastic

STARTING PRICE: £4,200-£6,700

A silver metal and wood 24-light chandelier that belonged in Lagerfeld’s home at 8 Rue de Fontaine, styled with metal doors to showcase his conflicting tastes. ‘It illustrated his former taste for 18th-century decorative arts,’ says Mothes. 

A silver metal and wood 24-light chandelier (pictured) that belonged in Lagerfeld’s home at 8 Rue de Fontaine, styled with metal doors to showcase his conflicting tastes is also up for sale

‘The doors are reminiscent of 1900s industrial architecture. It’s interesting the way he mixes architecture.’

Indeed, while Lagerfeld once described Art Deco, which emerged in France around World War I, as representing ‘this modernity I am tirelessly searching for’, he remained fond of older styles.  

He didn’t want to ride his bike, just look at it  

STARTING PRICE: £675- £1,010

The designer enjoyed looking at his cars more than driving them, and it is unlikely he pedalled this red lacquered bicycle kept in his Paris flat. 

The designer enjoyed looking at his cars more than driving them, and it is unlikely he pedalled this red lacquered bicycle (pictured) kept in his Paris flat

‘I think he had enough humour to appreciate its very amusing shape,’ says Mothes. ‘I think he bought it for the shape.’

Despite Lagerfeld’s 2001 weight loss, he wasn’t an avid exerciser, discouraging it completely in his book, The Karl Lagerfeld Diet, as it ‘runs the risk of making you hungry’. If you really must do it, he added, stick to ‘15 minutes three times a week.’   

 Exotic gloves for a youthful look

STARTING PRICE: £420-£840

Lagerfeld was rarely seen without leather, fingerless gloves and over 200 pairs are up for auction, including this lot of ten made from python, eel and lamb skin.

Lagerfeld was rarely seen without leather, fingerless gloves (pictured) and over 200 pairs are up for auction , including this lot of ten made from python, eel and lamb skin

‘He… thought the hands disclosed part of your age,’ says Mothes. Lagerfeld, chose fingerless so he could still sketch and said wearing gloves made the arm look longer: ‘And you know what it means in French to have a long arm? You are influential.’

He also said. ‘When I was 14, I wanted to smoke as I wanted to look grown-up. But my mother said: “You shouldn’t smoke. Your hands are not that beautiful and that shows when you smoke.”  

Binder of a workaholic   

STARTING PRICE: £1,685 – £2,527

A scrapbook containing photos, invitations, notes, press cuttings and drawings Lagerfeld collected between 1954 and 1958.

A scrapbook (pictured) containing photos, invitations, notes, press cuttings and drawings Lagerfeld collected between 1954 and 1958

Lagerfeld loved to compile scrapbooks (pictured) and one from the 1990s is also being auctioned off

‘He was collecting drawings to nurture his own imagination,’ says Mothes. Lagerfeld was a notorious workaholic who produced about 20 collections a year for Fendi, Chanel and his own label.

He continued to compile scrapbooks. One from the 1990s is also being auctioned. Mothes says Lagerfeld — said to own 300 iPods — was a ‘man of paper’ but in his later years ‘he was doing drawings on digital screens’.

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