SALE PREVIEW: François and Betty Catroux

A sale with glamorous provenance - TDE highlights five lots to watch.

Sotheby’s Paris
24th February 2022
14.30 CET

By Astrid Malingreau / 21st February 2022
Ron Arad, 'Two legs and a table', circa 1990-1994 (Estimate: €70,000-100,000) COURTESY: Sotheby's

Ron Arad, ‘Two legs and a table’, circa 1990-1994 (Lot 42, estimate: €70,000-100,000)
COURTESY: Sotheby’s

ON THE 24TH of February, Sotheby’s Paris will offer the collection of Betty and François Catroux, the glamorous couple at the heart of the 1970’s art and social scene in Paris.

Betty, a slender, androgynous beauty, became Yves Saint Laurent’s muse. François, an equally dashing figure, was an interior designer who created interiors for the international jet set – from Russian Oligarchs, to Greek and Arab Princesses.

Serge Manzon, 'Éclair' table lamp, circa 1978 (Estimate: €3,000-5,000) COURTESY: Sotheby's

Serge Manzon, ‘Éclair’ table lamp, circa 1978 (Lot 23, estimate: €3,000-5,000)
COURTESY: Sotheby’s

The 119 lots were collected by François for an apartment in the Palais Maeterlinck (Nice) overlooking the French riviera, where the couple were planning to spend their old age. Sadly, François passed away before its completion.

The collection comprises artworks and a mixture of contemporary and 20th century works of design, with estimates ranging from a couple of hundred Euros, to the hundreds of thousands. The catalogue sale is organised by room – in order to highlight François’s decorating flair – and clients will undoubtedly be tempted by both the appealing estimates and the glamorous provenance.

François Catroux, 'Modular High Table', circa 1970 (Estimate: €3,000-5,000) COURTESY: Sotheby's

François Catroux, ‘Modular High Table’, circa 1970 (Estimate: €3,000-5,000)
COURTESY: Sotheby’s

The highlights of the sale are the four lots by British designer Ron Arad, whose estimates are more robust. They are all from the ‘Volume’ series, whose metal distortion and playful light reflection have become the designer’s trademark.

Amongst this selection ‘Two legs and a table’ (Lot 21, estimate €60,000-80,000) and ‘Three legs and a table’ (Lot 42, estimate €70,000-100,000) are the rarest because they were made in Arad’s London workshop One Off and, although they were conceived as an edition of 20, only a few were ever produced.

Ron Arad, 'Three legs and a table', 1989 (Estimate: €60,000-80,000) COURTESY: Sotheby's

Ron Arad, ‘Three legs and a table’, 1989 (Lot 21, estimate: €60,000-80,000)
COURTESY: Sotheby’s

Some collectors might be interested in works that captured the singularities of Catroux’s interiors such as the ‘Éclair’ lamp by Serge Manzo for Pierre Cardin (Lot 23, estimate €3,000-5,000). This piece perfectly reflects the decorator’s love of refined materials and craftsmanship, combined with a dash of futurism.

The pair of ‘Columns’ by Marcial Berro (Lot 64, estimate €1,200-1,500) – bought directly from the Galerie du Passage – are also worth a look, as Berro was an artist also collected by both Yves Saint Laurent and Marion Lambert.

Marcial Berro, 'Pair of columns', circa 1990 (Estimate: €1,200-1,800) COURTESY: Sotheby's

Marcial Berro, ‘Pair of columns’, circa 1990 (Lot 64, estimate: €1,200-1,800)
COURTESY: Sotheby’s

Perhaps an admirer might even venture for one of the creations of Catroux himself, such as the ‘Modular High Table’ (Lot 51, estimate €3,000-5,000).

François and Betty Catroux: a Mediterranean setting at Sotheby’s Paris.


Article by Astrid Malingreau
Article by Astrid Malingreau
Astrid Malingreau is an independent advisor focused on 20th century contemporary design. She previously worked for Christie's in London and New York as a specialist in decorative arts and design. View all articles by Astrid Malingreau