PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF FRANÇOIS DUPRÉ
An innovative and successful hotelier and dapper racehorse owner, François Dupré (1888-1966) led a charmed life. The grandson of landscape painter Jules Dupré and son of the celebrated Parisian beauty Berthe Gueydan, François embarked on a career in the hotel business with the acquisition of the Hotel George V in Paris in the early 1930s, which he furnished with beautiful 18th Century Gobelins, still in place today. In the aftermath of the Great Depression, Dupré purchased the famed Plaza Athénée which he refurbished in 1936, and soon afterwards added the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal to his expansive holdings.
In 1930 Dupré acquired the thoroughbred horse breeding and racing farm, Haras d'Ouilly in Normandy from his friend Duke Louis Decazes. His passion for the sport led to numerous important victories over the next 45 years: his horse "Tantième" won the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe back-to-back in 1950 and 1951 and in 1963 "Relko" won the Epson Derby.
A 1962 Time Magazine article recounts the extraordinary victory of his horse "Match II" at the Washington, D.C. International:
"The program called it the $125,000 Washington, D.C. International, and 13 thoroughbreds from nine nations pranced to the post at Maryland's Laurel Race Course. But to the fans, it was strictly a domestic affair, a test between the three top U.S. horses: Jack Dreyfus' sprinter, Beau Purple; Mrs. Richard C. duPont's great gelding, Kelso; and Jack Price's millionaire colt, Carry Back. Ill-mannered catcalls greeted the Russian and Japanese entries, and Britain's Pardao went off at 108-to-1 odds.
The only foreign horse with a following was France's Match II. Beau Purple's trainer, Allen Jerkens, said he was worried: 'That French colt-he's a brute.' Racing exclusively in Europe, where stakes horses get fewer chances to run and purses are generally smaller than in the U.S., the muscular bay had already earned $283,000 for French Hotelman François Dupré, who owns Paris' Plaza-Athénée, Montreal's Ritz-Carlton, a breeding farm in Normandy and a string of 60 race horses. Dupré's jockey for the International: Yves Saint-Martin, France's top rider, a vise-handed craftsman who, at 21, already ranks with the world's best. Even so, Match II went out as a 6-to-1 long shot.
More respect was due. Beau Purple ran his race at the start, then folded. Kelso and Carry Back staged a killing duel for the lead until Carry Back ran out of gas and the victory chant 'Kelso! Kelso!' started through the stands. But it was not the Americans' day. Biding his time back in the pack, Saint-Martin deftly drove Match II past the winded field, coming through on the rail, gaining on Kelso with every long stride. 'I saw him coming,' said Kelso's jockey Ismael Valenzuela, 'but I just couldn't do anything about it.' At the finish, Match II was 1 1/2 lengths ahead and going away. Kelso's second-place finish will probably earn him Horse of the Year honors in the U.S. Match II went home with $70,000 winner's purse and a higher title: best race horse in the world."
François Dupré died in 1966 on the day his horse "Danseur" won the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp. His beloved wife Anna continued the racing operation until her death in 1977. The bloodstock was then sold to Aga Khan IV.
Christie's is honored to be entrusted with the sale of paintings and watercolors from the estate of François Dupré. His keen power of observation and appreciation of quality are reflected in the works of art he collected throughout his life.
Property from the Estate of François Dupré