French businessman and art collector Pierre Bergé, who co-founded the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house, died on Friday at his home in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in France at the age of 86, reported BBC. The 86-year-old, who founded the fashion label with his partner Yves Saint Laurent, was also a gay rights campaigner. Bergé established Sidaction, a fundraising organisation dedicated to research on the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, and its treatment.
After co-founding the Saint Laurent fashion house in 1961, Bergé handled its business dealings, while Laurent created the designs that became famous in France in the 1970s. The businessman also amassed two of the world’s top private art and rare books collections, reported The Guardian.
Bergé was known in France for his very public relationship with Laurent. Bergé and Laurent were joined in a civil union in 2008, a few days before the designer died of a brain tumour. In March 2017, with same-sex marriages now legal in France, Bergé married the American garden designer Madison Cox.
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed sorrow at Bergé’s death. “A whole part of our collective citizen and artistic memory dies with Pierre Bergé,” he said. Former French Culture Minister Jack Lang called Bergé a “true prince of the arts and culture”. The country’s former president François Hollande called the art collector “an exceptional man of conviction who defended the idea of equal rights for all”.