Pierre Bergé : biography
Pierre Bergé () (born 14 November 1930) is a French industrialist and patron. He is the co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent Couture House and former partner of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.
Bergé has been recognized with the Order of Orange-Nassau, Officer of the Ordre National du Mérite, Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, and Legion of Honor.
Bergé was born at in Oléron (Charente-Maritime). His mother Christiane was an amateur soprano and a progressive teacher who used the Montessori method. His father worked for the tax office and was a great rugby enthusiast. Bergé attended the Lycée Eugène Fromentin in La Rochelle, and later went to Paris. On the day of his arrival, as he was walking on the Champs-Élysées, French poet Jacques Prévert landed on him following a fall from his apartment window. During these early years in Paris, Pierre Bergé befriended the young French artist Bernard Buffet and was a great help in forwarding Buffet’s success.. Mediathequemahler.org. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.. Portal.unesco.org. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
Philanthropic, cultural, and political interests
In 1987 Bergé launched the French magazine Globe, which supported the candidacy of François Mitterrand for the presidential election. Bergé participated in all the campaign rallies of François Mitterrand (contrary to 1981, when he did not vote for Mitterrand). Bergé later went on to serve as President of the association of the friends of Institut François-Mitterrand. In 1993, he helped to launch the magazine Globe Hebdo.
A longtime fan and patron of opera, Mitterrand appointed Bergé president of Opéra Bastille on 31 August 1988. He retired from the post in 1994, becoming honorary president of the Paris National Opera. He currently serves as president of the Médiathèque Musicale Mahler, a non-profit library with extensive collections relating to 19th and 20th century music. He is also president of the Comité Jean Cocteau, and the exclusive owner of all moral rights of all of Jean Cocteau’s works.. Jean Cocteau. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
A supporter of gay rights, he supported the association against AIDS, Act Up-Paris, and assumed ownership of the magazine Têtu. He was also one of the shareholders of Pink TV, before withdrawing. In 1994, he participated with Line Renaud in the creation of the AIDS association Sidaction, and he became its president in 1996, a position he still holds. Sidaction is one of the main associations fighting AIDS in Europe.
Bergé’s philanthropic patronages have included UNESCO. In July 1992, Bergé was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.. Portal.unesco.org (2000-06-07). Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
In 2007 he supported the candidacy of Ségolène Royal. On a more general basis, he is considered as her sponsor. For example, since late 2008, she is no longer heading the French socialist party and he is paying for the rental of her political office located between French Senate and House of Representants (but he stopped paying 3 March 2011).. Lefigaro.fr. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
The art collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Bergé was put up for sale by the latter in February 2009, with two of twelve bronze statue heads looted from the Old Summer Palace in China during the Second Opium War among them. When China requested the return of these statues, Bergé refused and declared “I am prepared to offer this bronze head to the Chinese straight away. All they have to do is to declare they are going to apply human rights, give the Tibetans back their freedom and agree to accept the Dalai Lama on their territory." Bergé’s self-admitted "political blackmail" was received with criticism in China.. English.people.com.cn (2009-02-25). Retrieved on 2011-07-04. After Chinese collector Cai Mingchao placed the winning bid and refused to pay on "moral and patriotic grounds," Bergé decided to retain ownership of them.
Bergé has also set up the museum of Berber art in Marrakesh, Morocco, which holds a collection of Berber objects originating from many different part of Morocco, from the Rif to the Sahara.
On November 2, 2010 he bought a stake in Le Monde newspaper, along with investors Matthieu Pigasse and Xavier Niel.
Yves Saint Laurent
Bergé met Yves Saint Laurent in 1958. They became romantically involved and together launched Yves Saint Laurent Couture House in 1961. The couple split amicably in 1976 but remained lifelong friends and business partners. Bergé acted as C.E.O. of Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture until it shuttered in 2002. Highly protective and invested in the reputation and legacy of Saint Laurent Couture, Bergé was known as the "Dean of Yves Saint Laurent". Vogue.co.uk (2008-05-30). Retrieved on 2011-07-04. According to The New York Times, a few days before Saint Laurent died in 2008, he and Bergé were joined in a same-sex civil union known as a Pacte civil de solidarité (PACS) in France.
In 1992, Bergé sold shares of the fashion house just before the company released a poor economic report. In 1996, this action was deemed to be insider trading and he was sentenced to a fine of one million Francs.. Infomat.com. Retrieved on 2011-07-04. After the close of the Couture house, Bergé became president of the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation.. Intute (2002-10-31). Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
During Bergé’s eulogy of Saint Laurent, he reflected on their lifetime of memories, saying; "I remember your first collection under your name and the tears at the end. Then the years passed. Oh, how they passed quickly. The divorce was inevitable but the love never stopped."