PIGUET HISTORICAL AUCTION: The World Swiss Foundation & The Minkoff Collection | Total $3-4 Million



20 – 21 September, 2022

Geneva, Switzerland

For the First Time at Auction!

Exceptional Historical Treasures from

The World Swiss Foundation

The Minkoff Collection

A Dialogue between Contemporary Art and Primitive Arts

Total Estimate: 3-4 Million CHF

Piguet Auction


The prestigious historical collections of the Foundation of Swiss Throughout the World, formerly located at the Château de Penthes: more than 500 lots of paintings, furniture, books, militaria, medals or uniforms from illustrious Swiss families who accomplished exceptional feats abroad.

The Minkoff Collection: an important group of more than 300 lots from the Geneva flat of the Minkoff-Olesen couple in which contemporary art dialogues with primitive art (total estimate CHF 500,000-700,000).


Einmütigkeit”: a rare oil painting by Ferdinand Hodler, a study for the mural in the Council Chamber of the New Town Hall in Hanover (lot 152, estimate CHF 200,000-300,000).

A bronze elephant by Rembrandt Bugatti from the collection of Alain Delon (lot 154, estimated at CHF 80,000-120,000).

900 lots sold exclusively on the internet dedicated to luxury and the art of living: watches, jewellery and luxury leather goods, fine wines and spirits

Piguet Lot 130 | Lucio Fontana, 1967, The Minkoff Collection, Est. 80-120,000 CHF

A piece of Swiss History to be sold in Geneva

The historical collections of the Foundation for the Swiss in the World will be auctioned for the first time at Piguet on Tuesday and Wednesday 20-21 September.

Originally housed in the Château de Penthes (opposite), which closed two years ago, the Foundation was born of the combined passion of Jean-René Bory (1928-2009) and the enthusiasm of numerous donors. Its objective was “to make known as widely as possible the history of the Swiss who, throughout the world, exercised a significant influence on the civilisation of their time”, from a military point of view as well as in the scientific, cultural and economic fields.


The collection is of a rare diversity and includes more than 500 lots rich in uniforms, old weapons, portraits, phaleristics, numismatics, old books and fine arts from illustrious Swiss families: Affry, Besenval, Burckhardt, Crousaz, Diesbach, Fischer, Gélieu, Gingins, Griset de Forel, Haldimand, La Harpe, Marval, May, Meuron, Necker, Pfyffer, Pictet, Reding, Rigot de Begnins, Salis, Schumacher, Schulthess, Tronchin, Vasserot de Vincy, etc.

“We are very honoured to present and to have been able to revalue, through several months of historical and scientific work, this incredible collection which has proved to the whole world that Switzerland’s contribution to the march of history was inversely proportional to its geographical size,” comments Bernard Piguet, Director and Auctioneer of the firm.

Rare Phaleristics and Numismatics

The three rarest and most prestigious orders in European history are brought together: the Order of the Golden Fleece from the de Watteville family (lot 45, estimated at CHF 5,000-7,000), the Order of the Garter (lot 46, estimated at CHF 2,000-3,000) and the Order of the Holy Spirit awarded to Count Louis-Auguste-Augustin d’Affry, the one and only Swiss to have ever received this order from the French monarchy (lot 34 opposite, estimated at CHF 3,000-5,000).


Rare and highly distinguished medals include the Copley Medal of the Royal Society (London) awarded to the Genevan scientist Jean-André Deluc (1727-1817) (lot 60, estimated at CHF 3,000-5,000), as well as the “Haller” Medal of Merit from Bern (lot 61, estimated at CHF 6,000-8,000).

Piguet Lot 34 | The Order of the Holy Spirit awarded to Count Louis-Auguste-Augustin d’Affry, the one and only Swiss to have ever received this order from the French monarchy. Estimated at 3,000-5,000 CHF

Textiles and Antiquarian Books

In the textile section, the visitor travels through European history with the gentleman’s habit of Louis XVI’s minister Jacques Necker in floral embroidered satin (lot 74 opposite, estimated at CHF 1,000-1,500), military uniforms of the Swiss Royal Guard in the service of the Kingdom of France (lots 36 and 37), the military uniforms of Felix von Schumacher (1814-1894), a general in the service of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (lot 40, estimated at CHF 2,000-3,000), and a ceremonial coat of the Knight Grand Cross of the Spanish Royal and Distinguished Order of Charles III (lot 44, estimated at CHF 3,000-5,000).

One of the main themes of the library held at the Château de Penthes is the service of the Swiss abroad, with for example a State of the composition of the Regiment of the Swiss Guards with the arms of the Comte d’Artois, future Charles X, brother of Louis XVI (lot 85). The library also includes rare works of documentation and geography in old editions as well as beautiful bindings with the arms of the Marquise de Pompadour (lot 89) or the imposing book of festivals with the arms of the city of Paris (lot 83).


Napoleon I Souvenirs

Four Exceptional gold medals from the First French Empire, from the family of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), Emperor of the French (lots 55 to 58). These medals were acquired at the 1950 auction at Villa Prangins by one of the greatest patrons of the Foundation of the Swiss in the World: Louis Birkigt, son of the founder of the firm Hispano-Suiza. The more intimate lot 4191 contains hair and a fragment of the emperor’s coffin.

Gold medal from the First French Empire, Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

Furniture, Objets d’art and Collectables

Among the furniture and objets d’art is an important gold, enamel and diamond snuffbox, presented by Tsar Alexander I to General Willem du Pont for his loyal services and which has remained in the same family to this day (lot 52 opposite, estimated at CHF 40,000-60,000).

A Regency period chest of drawers comes from the family of Paul-Louis Weiler, a great patron of the arts (lot 77, estimated at CHF 30,000-50,000),while a bust by Swiss sculptor Edouard Marcel Sandoz (1881-1971) depicts General Henri Guisan, commander-in-chief of the Swiss army throughout the Second World War (lot 66, estimated at CHF 2,000-3,000).

Finally, some more contemporary objects relate the exploits of the aviator Audemars (lots 4082 and 4083) or the stay of a Swiss flag in space brought back by the astronaut Claude Nicollier (lot 4389 opposite estimated at CHF 300-500).


The Minkoff Collection

Contemporary Art and Primitive Art

Piguet is honoured to have been chosen to showcase another important Swiss collection: the collection of Genevans Muriel Minkoff-Olesen (1948-2020) and Gérald Minkoff (1937-2009).

An emblematic couple in contemporary art, these two artists and video makers met in 1967. Muriel, trained at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Geneva, produced a series of works that she exhibited from 1972 in Switzerland and abroad (Spain, France). Gérald, initially training in anthropology and biology, became a pioneer in video art. From 1968, he exhibited his installations in Europe and abroad (Italy, United States, Brazil). Passionate about travel, the Olesen-Minkoff couple criss-crossed the globe from Africa to Patagonia, passing through Asia, Oceania and the Americas.


Their collection illustrates their multiple interests in art, from the New Realists to the Fluxus movement to Pop Art. Daniel Spoerri’s lunches (lots 140 and 4722) and Arman’s deconstructed violins (lots 122 and 123 opposite, estimated at CHF 12,000-18,000) sit alongside three important “Concetto Spaziale” sculptures by Fontana (lots 129 and 130 on page 2, estimated at CHF 80,000-120,000), two works by Roy Lichtenstein (lots 131 and 132) and a creation by Christo (lot 125). Other pieces refer to their friendships, notably with Jean Tinguely (lots 138, 139, etc.), and Man Ray (lots 126, 127, etc.) and some lots dedicated to the couple: 135, 137, etc.).

These contemporary works of art are complemented by a large group of sculptures, statuettes, masks and objects dedicated to the primitive arts, reflecting the couple’s love of travel. Among the exceptional variety of objects is a remarkable bronze sculpture of a Yoruba warrior rider dating from the 17th century (lot 108, estimated at CHF 15,000-20,000) and a magnificent Kota reliquary figure (lot 115, estimated at CHF 15,000-20,000).

Thanks to several loans from Swiss and international museums and galleries – Rietberg Museum in Zurich, MEN, Galerie Krinzinger in Vienna, Kunstmuseum in Bern, etc. – the Minkoff collection has made its mark on the art world and more particularly on the Geneva art world following the bequest received by the MAMCO (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Geneva) in 2020.



Hodler and Rembrandt Bugatti headline Paintings and Sculptures

This autumn, Piguet Hôtel des Ventes is offering a preparatory study by Ferdinand Hodler for the mural he will create for the Council Chamber of the New Town Hall in Hanover. Entitled “Einmütigkeit” (Unanimity), this fresco is one of the artist’s most significant works and its preparatory study is a unique and rare record of the complex composition he completed in 1913 (lot 152 opposite, estimated at CHF 200,000-300,000).

For a touch of glamour, the Fine Art category also offers a bronze elephant by Rembrandt Bugatti (1884-1916), which the current Swiss owner acquired at the 1990 sale of the Alain Delon collection (lot 154 opposite, estimated at CHF 80,000-120,000). Works by César (lot 142), Raymond Hans (lot 143), Louise Nevelson (lot 144) and Mark Tobey (lots 147-149) complete the selection of modern and contemporary art.


Online Only sale of Fine wines and spirits, silverware, Decorative art, Oriental and Far Eastern Art:

Final auction on 19 September.

Online Only sale of Works of art, Carpets, Furniture:

Final auction on 20 September.

Online Only sale of the collections of the Foundation of Swiss throughout the World, the Minkoff Collection, Paintings and Sculptures:

Final auction on 21 September.

Online Only sale of Luxury Leather Goods, Jewellery, Watches:

Final auction on 22 September.

Saleroom auctions in Geneva:

Tuesday 20 September | 7 pm: silver, Carpets, Furniture, the collections of the Foundation of Swiss throughout the World.

Wednesday 21 September | 7pm: Minkoff Collection, Modern and Contemporary Art.

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