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France mourns man behind YSL fashion empire

By Angela Charlton

Pierre Berge, an influential French businessman, philanthropist and gay rights activist who helped build the fashion empire of his long-time lover Yves Saint Laurent, has died.

A cultural celebrity in France in his own right, Berge (86) was one of France's leading art patrons as well as a chief executive of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house. He also presided over the board of Le Monde newspaper, among his many media investments.

Mr Berge died in his sleep early yesterday at one of his homes in the southern town of Saint-Remy-de-Provence following a long illness, according to a statement from the Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation.

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