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Pierre Bergé, long-time business partner and companion of Yves Saint Laurent, dies at 86

Stéphane de Sakutin, AFP | French businessman Pierre Bergé pictured on February 11, 2015, at his office in Paris.

French businessman Pierre Bergé, who died on Friday at 86, will forever be associated in the public imagination with his former protégé and companion, Yves Saint Laurent, with whom Bergé founded his eponymous fashion label.


The pair met in 1958 and were joined in a civil union days before the designer’s death at 71 in 2008. Bergé was due to inaugurate an Yves Saint Laurent museum in Paris next month and another this year in Marrakech.

The businessman had said that his husband Madison Cox, a 58-year-old American landscaper and vice president of the Fondation Bergé-Saint Laurent, was already in charge of the museums and would succeed him in that work. Bergé and Cox were married in March.

But as a patron of the arts, philanthropist, fashion and media tycoon, and tireless champion of progressive political causes including gay rights and the fight against racism, Bergé’s partnership in life and in business with Saint Laurent is only part of his legacy.

Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, Paris | “SOIR LONG Broderies” collection board Spring-Summer 1988 haute couture collection.

Former French culture minister Jack Lang led the numerous tributes to Bergé after his death early Friday, calling him a “true prince of the arts and culture”.

Bergé had been head of the Opera de Paris from 1988 to 1993. A major patron of the arts and culture, he financed the purchases of works for the Louvre Museum and renovations at the National Gallery of London and Paris’s Pompidou Centre.

He became a major shareholder of the French daily Le Monde in 2010, having previously founded the gay magazine Têtu. Bergé also purchased the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, now L’Obs, in 2014.

“He was a magician who made his life and those whom he loved a symphony of happiness,” Lang said. “Pierre Bergé was, above all, a marvelous and loyal friend… who was there to take on all the good fights, the noble causes, in particular to provide the means for research to defeat AIDS,” Lang said.

Bergé died in his sleep early Friday at his country home in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, in the South of France, following a long illness. FRANCE 24 takes a look at facets of his life in pictures.

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(With AFP, AP and REUTERS)

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