A proof of Richard Wagner’s opera “The Mastersingers of Nuremberg”, copiously corrected by the composer himself, sold for more than twice its estimate in Paris Tuesday.
The book was part of the ongoing auction of fashion magnate Pierre Berge’s famous library one of the richest in private hands which has already raised 17.2 million euros ($19.5 million).
Sotheby’s said the proof copy of the German composer’s comic opera, which at around five hours is the longest commonly performed, went for 124,690 euros.
It was among 260 items from the poetry and musical section of the library, which Gerge, co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent label, amassed over the decades.
A first edition of the first-known musical encyclopaedia, “Musurgia Universalis”, written in Latin in 1650 by the German Jesuit Athanasius Kircher sold for £62,660, a record for the author, a polymath known as the “last Renaissance man”.
A copy of French writer Paul Valery’s celebrated 1920 poem “Cimetiere marin” (“The Seaside Cemetery”) sold for 62,660 euros, more than twice its 25,000-euro estimate.
The rest of Berge’s library thought to be worth in excess of 30 million euros will be dispersed in three more sales planned over the next year.
“You have to know how to get rid of things,” Berge, 86, told AFP before the first auction.
The proceeds of the sales will go to a foundation Berge set up with his late lover Yves Saint Laurent which helps support AIDS research.