In celebration of the 100th birthday of Kilian Hennessy, Hennessy inaugurated
in Cognac, a permanent exhibition area dedicated to "Beauté du Siècle",
a work of art commissioned from contemporary artist Jean-Michel Othoniel.
Eminent representative of the sixth generation of the Hennessy family, Kilian Hennessy presided over the House from 1945 to 1975. This visionary founded the Hennessy Social Institute (1947) and initiated the merger with Moët & Chandon (1971) as well as the creation of the LVMH Group (1987), for which he served as the very first Honorary President.
Created and produced by Jean-Michel Othoniel, "Beauté de Siècle" is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional liqueur chest. It was presented to Kilian Hennessy on 1 March 2007 at a private luncheon at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The museum also celebrated its one hundred years of existence this year, and to commemorate the occasion, the House of Hennessy presented it with a donation of three thousand prints from the Talbot collection of photographs (1898-1914).
A masterpiece of craftsmanship, produced in a limited edition of 100 pieces, "Beauté du Siècle" is the fruit of the work of more than ten artists and craftsmen. The white-haloed mirror walls were created by master glassworkers, the last craftsmen able to reproduce cathedral stained glass. The structure in melted aluminium adorned with rings, is surmounted by two glass Murano pearls from the Salviati workshops, whose shades of amber hint at the treasure concealed inside this "chest of secrets"...
... The chest opens to the touch of a bronze key engraved with the Hennessy star. A concealed switch brings up a tray holding a carafe which is set in a sublime gilded lattice designed by Guerlain, embedded in an aluminum sheath along with four Murano glasses, whose stems boast inserted gold leaf.
Yann Fillioux, cellar master for Hennessy, started his career under the supervision of Kilian Hennessy and pays tribute now to his former director with a "Beauté de Siècle" cognac, a blend of some one hundred of the most remarkable eaux-de-vie selected, the oldest of which date back to 1907, from among the Hennessy reserves. This unique cognac is presented in a Baccarat crystal decanter, designed in the traditional form of the sample flasks used by the House of Hennessy.
Underneath the chest is a concealed mechanism that opens a secret drawer, revealing an album produced by the art publisher Toluca and presenting the Talbot collection. Inside a laser-engraved silver metal box lies a selection of portraits of the most famous elegant women from the Belle Epoque. An original and numbered print of the Collection (1898 – 1914) also as an ode to the century's beauty, is enclosed in each copie.
As part of a Moët Hennessy patronage operation in May 2007, the House of Hennessy donated a "Chest of Secrets" to the amfAR, the foundation for AIDS research chaired by Elisabeth Taylor. At a charity auction organized during the Cannes Film Festival and conducted by Sharon Stone, the chest left the auction block at the handsome sum of $200,000.
Since then, "Beauté du Siècle" has been presented at a number of contemporary art events:
- Art Basel – 13 to 17 June 2007
- Salzburg World Fine Art Fair - 27 July to 4 August 2007, where it received the "L'Oiseau de Feu" award in the "Spectacular" category for its "originality, creativity and the combination of artistic techniques".
- Shanghai Contemporary – 6 to 9 September 2007
- Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Gallery in New York – opening on 26 November 2007
- Art Basel Miami Beach – 6 to 9 December 2007
- Galerie Nichidou in Tokyo – opening on 7 December 2007
The sale price of "Beauté du Siècle" is €150,000.
It is on permanent exhibition at Galerie Pierre-Alain Challier in Paris.
(open by appointment: 8, rue Debelleyme 75003 Paris. Tel. : +33 (0) 1 49 96 63 00).
"Beauté du Siècle" may also be purchased anonymously by request to