Herve and Frédéric Lalanne settle divorce case

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Gardner killed himself after committing suicide in 2015

The billionaire couple who sold their prized collection of art – including a Vincent van Gogh self-portrait – for $675m (£562m) in 2014 have settled their divorce proceedings.

Herve and Frédéric Lalanne announced that they had “secured final and fair settlements” in the case of their split, three years after their divorce.

The couple – both 78 – kept the van Gogh, as well as works by Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein and Mark Rothko.

Last week Mr Lalanne received more than 100million euros ($106m; £90m).

The couple were once considered among the richest people in France, the BBC’s business correspondent Bobbie Johnson reports.

They developed their own distinctive clay-based technique that earned them the nickname Le Select.

The Lalannes were a bit of a showbiz couple, with Mr Lalanne for years a fixture on France’s showbiz circuit. He has long acted in musicals, and his wife is also an actress.

Last year his side of the family and a friend helped him live in the guest house of an estate that the couple had created near Nice in the south of France.

Last year the couple both filed for divorce, but neither obtained the other’s signature on their divorce decree. The case was then sent back to arbitration.

They believed they could not afford an expensive divorce, the Financial Times reported, citing two family acquaintances.

In 2016, Mr Lalanne described the partnership between himself and his wife as a “perfect marriage” – much like rock stars who work together but are partners rather than lovers.

Speaking to reporters from the couple’s home in Switzerland, Ms Lalanne said that the decision to split was a “bitter one”.

She said the money she had received was “not” enough to support her and their children.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The self-portrait, which sold for $87.5m, was the largest work in the sale

“The decision to split with my husband was one of the most devastating decisions I have ever made. It was a painful divorce for both sides,” she said.

But she added that it was the best choice she could have made for their children.

“The money was not the reason for splitting up the company,” she said.

The auction of the family’s collection – which includes some of the world’s most famous paintings – was a record for a private collection of art.

The sale was seen as a surprise because the family are the owners of the Ponseti auction house in Geneva and were known for selling works at discount prices.

The total value of the sale was about twice as much as the previous record price for any private collection of art – the $480m paid for the painting Battle of Trafalgar by Francis Bacon.

In addition to the Van Gogh, the sale also included work by one of the great avant-garde photographers of the 20th century, Weegee.

The couple were not the biggest art buyers at auctions, however, with Dasha Zhukova, the American socialite and owner of Russia’s Garage Centre for Contemporary Art, estimated to have bought Art Deco pieces for a record-breaking $342m at a 2015 auction in Paris.

Watch the auction on Sky Arts:

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