1983 - Exceptional Auction of a painting by Georges Yatridès for the Polish children’s Christmas


Part 1

Part 2


Transcription of the documentary

Exceptional Auction of a painting by Georges Yatridès for the Polish children’s Christmas.

By the office of Pierre Cornette de Saint-Cyr, auctioneer

Monday, December 12th,  1983 at 10:30pm, at the Hôtel Méridien, 80 Bd Gouvion, St-Cyr – Porte Maillot


The New Scrolls

I dedicated my life to painting. Painting has been a way of life, yet my life would be without foundation should my painting not serve my brothers, Men.

André REIDBERGER, Gouverneur du Rotary International : « It is my pleasure to see that many of my fellow Rotarians have responded to my call tonight, and so have the Lions, thanks to Governor Bernard Leroy.  Thank you. This noble cause calls for our presence here. I would like to thank all the personalities who were kind enough to join us, in particular Mr. Arthur Conte, Mr. Orengo, Mr. Bourmeyster, the great actress Alice Sapritch, Auditor General Robert ???. René Huyghe of the French Academy is currently away and sends his apologies for not attending.

I hope that through the proceeds of this sale, later turned into medicines and essential foodstuffs, and thanks to Georges Yatridès’ generosity and talent, the deeds of the Rotarians, the Lions, and the help of the Church for transportation, we will bring some of the French heart to the Polish people, who have a great need of it during these days of Christmas, traditionally days of joy and hope. Thank you.»

Bernard LEROY, Gouverneur Lion’s France : « It is a great pleasure for me to be among you tonight and witness the union of our two great service clubs for a noble purpose: to achieve and continue what our two great service clubs have been doing for so long. The Lions began helping Poland in September 1981. Since that date, we have sent 285 thirty-tonne trucks, containing goods amounting close to 5 billion centimes. It is no small thing but it is insufficient. We must persevere and tonight we will indeed do better.

One man noticed our achievements. The Pope himself granted us a private audience and thanked us for what we have accomplished. He also encouraged us to continue our efforts. I will now hand you over to Mr. Bourmeyster.»

Alexandre Bourmeyster : "Mr. Minister, Mr. Ambassador, ladies and gentlemen, you honour me with your attention. This honour, I owe to Georges Yatridès, my friend for over thirty years. I am a professor at Grenoble III, our hometown’s university. I will not start an academic lecture on Georges Yatridès’s painting, however. I will not give you a semeiological class on his art; He demonstrated us that he could overcome every obstacle, every pictorial expression trap that restrained so many avant-gardist artists – I won’t mention any names - and his art is now a promise for the future and for painting. One may describe this work as a pictorial renaissance and as painting for the sake of painting – not for some other extra-pictorial purpose. From there, we may draw a connection with the cause at hand tonight: the resistance of one nation, whose spiritual courage makes her stand in the way of a colossal, material and physical machine. Art is something that one gives. Of course, sales and money matter; yet, once you have looked at a painting, it is yours. It is a part of your universe. Well, I believe that Georges gives his art; he opens his heart to everyone, and what is happening today illustrates this pictorial generosity. I have nothing more to say. Thank you for listening"

Arthur CONTE Ministre, et PDG de l'ORTF : "Ladies and gentlemen, I have at least three pleasures to be amongst you this evening and rumble the rocks of my Catalan pronunciation. The first is to speak in the name of two societies that made helping human beings the cornerstone of their action. In a world which progressively builds wall after wall, it is a beautiful thing to pay a tribute to any society’s action that fuels dialogue and exchange.

My second pleasure is, at such an important time, to show our attachment to this admirable Poland, and in particular, to this Poland of workers that deeply defies the most oppressive and ruthless system that Man has ever known.

Finally, my third pleasure, in a few words, is to tell you how much I admire Georges Yatridès for being this great, remarkable artist. Alas, it so happens that France does not share the same vision of its genius. As this century comes to an end, we must endure the yoke of mass civilization. Today’s first battle is for our children and our grand-children, a battle for freedom and against mediocracy, against anonymity and the advent of mediocrity. It is a beautiful thing that the world still counts artists that exist for the sake of being artists. Yatridès refers to no school, no movement, no model.  Yatridès is Yatridès. He stands fast.  May we all tomorrow, together, welcome a time when each man can remain himself. He stands impeccably as a crusader for responsibility, freedom and dignity. This is why I rejoice in celebrating this union tonight: that of a genius artist serving a nation distressed above all others."

Maître Pierre Cornette de Saint-Cyr : "You are now going to fight and I will only be your referee; yet, as you will exchange the blows, I would like to remind you of the latest Nobel Peace Prize Lech Walesa, currently fighting for his freedom, maybe his life.

We will now start the auction for this painting by Yatridès. I expect that you exchange serious blows because you know what you are fighting for. We will open the bidding at 200,000 francs.

200,000 francs on my left.

250,000. 280,000. 300,000. 300,000 in the middle.

320,000. 350,000 in the center again, on my left.

380,000 on my left.

400,000. 420,000 in front of me, in the middle.

450,000. 480,000. 500,000. 520,000 on my left.

550,000. 580,000. 600,000. 620,000 on my left.

650,000. 680,000. 700,000. 720,000 on my left.

750,000. 780,000 near the middle. 800,000 for this painting by Yatridès,

800,000 for Poland.  

Gone for 800,000. I am clapping my hands as I do not have a gavel."

Lady Gweneth VIDLER DULLES : "I think that Poland will be delighted by this gift, that many people will be happy and that this will help them forget a little of their misery. Thank you Mr. Yatridès for making such a wonderful donation."

Père Eugène Platter: "I would like to thank every one of you, particularly Mr. Yatridès and the winner, and also every one of you who have done so much – I can see you in this room – people I know, with whom I got in touch in order to help Poland. Thank you."

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