The art collection of the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, which is to be sold by auction, is proving to be a big draw in Paris. Hundreds of people have packed into the Grand Palais to view the items which include art deco furniture, ancient sculptures and paintings by Picasso, Matisse and Degas.It was built up over years by Saint Lauren and his business partner and companion Pierre Berge. The sale next week will be the biggest private auction of art in Paris in years. It includes two bronze sculptures claimed by China. The rabbit and rat’s heads were seized from Beijing’s Imperial Summer Palace in the 19th century. Berge has said he will hand them over if China frees Tibet and respects human rights. A representative of Christies auction house said: “We respect the feelings of the Chinese people. We understand their position. Under international law there is no reason why the sale should not go ahead.” Saint Laurent, whose clothing designs revolutionised women’s fashion, died at the age of 71 last year and bequeathed his share of the collection to a charitable foundation he set up with Berge. Christies expect the sale to raise up to 300 million euros, which Berge has said he will donate to AIDS research.