Laure de Beauvau-Craon, head of Sotheby’s France for nearly fifteen years, died on Saturday, April 29, at the age of seventy-four, writes Vincent Noce of the Art Newspaper. Born Laure de Rougemont, she married Marc de Beauveau-Craon, a nobleman connected to the duchy of Lorraine, thus making her a princess.
The daughter of a French army general and resistance leader, Beauveau-Craon led a whirlwind life: She went on hunting trips with members of the German Thurn und Taxis royal family and was close to the Bolivian industrialist and art collector Antenor Patiño. These social connections made her an excellent intermediary for Sotheby’s in France, where the country’s commissaires-priseurs, or auctioneers, held control over the French auction market for centuries. In the early 1980s, Beauveau-Craon started chipping away at the faction’s power by filing a complaint with the European Commission against their overreach. In 1997, the commission pressured France to put a stop to the commissaires-priseurs monopoly. The French government proposed a law to end it, but the parliament, two years later, had not passed it. Beauvau-Craon tested the authorities again by putting together a sale of multimillionaire Charles de Beistegui’s art collection. Threatened with massive sanctions by the commission, the French government, in 2000, finally decided to let foreign auction houses into the country’s art market.
In 2004, Beauvau-Craon retired from Sotheby’s, giving her time over to the study of Russian literature while taking care of a castle in Lorraine.