Pierre Bergé, who co-founded Yves Saint Laurent in 1961, has died after a long battle with an illness. As well as the co-founder Bergé was also the life long partner of Saint Laurent as well as a celebrated art patron. Bergé and Saint Laurent married in a civil ceremony in the final year of Saint Laurent’s life in 2008. François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive of luxury conglomerate Kering, said in a statement: “It is with great emotion that I learn of the death of Pierre Bergé, a person integral to the history of the House of Yves Saint Laurent. I will always remember him as a man instilled with a fertile tension between avant-gardism and the will to work relentlessly to inscribe creation in history. From the outset, he wished to preserve all the archives of Yves Saint Laurent’s work; an inestimable patrimony that will soon be made available for the public the world over to see in exceptional museums. This man who has just left us was a great cultural figure, and a man with convictions he fought tirelessly to uphold. Pierre Bergé was at the same time a visionary precursor, a great patron, a creative and passionate businessman and a defender of noble and universal causes. He was a tireless patron of young creation, notably through the Andam Association (Association Nationale des Arts de la Mode) he had created — he was also a generous patron of heritage. A man I deeply respect.” Bergé had been a prominent patron of AIDS research since the late 1980s and sat on the boards of several cultural institutions. In 2009 Bergé sold the entire collection of artworks, collected between himself and Saint Laurent over many years, at the Grand Palais in Paris for almost €375 million, benefitting the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent and AIDS research.