In a phone interview en route to her home in Hughsonville, N.Y., Alison Spear, an architect who employed Mr. Cox, “a dear friend for 25 years,” was asked what made Mr. Cox and Mr. Odedra tick as a couple.
“They’re both highly talented and accomplished gentlemen,” Ms. Spear said. “They complement each other.”
Mr. Cox, the estate’s executor, declined to be interviewed for this article. But many have been unable to resist making a quick mental inventory of Mr. Bergé’s holdings: the paintings, the furniture, the libraries and the cash; an auction of his and Mr. Saint Laurent’s personal collection fetched hundreds of millions in 2009. (The interest Mr. Bergé held in the French daily Le Monde has already been divested.)
Those who pictured Mr. Cox shuttlingluxuriously among the homes Mr. Bergé kept in Paris, Normandy, St.-Rèmy-de-Provence, Marrakesh and Tangier will be disappointed, according to Quito Fierro, the chief administrative officer of the Jardin Majorelle Foundation. The foundation is a subsidiary of the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation that operates, along with the museum in Marrakesh, the public Majorelle Garden and a museum of Berber culture there.
The vacation house Mr. Bergé built in Normandy was not his, Mr. Fierro said; he simply retained the right to use the house after selling it and Château Gabriel, on the same grounds, following Mr. Saint Laurent’s death.
And the other residences — including Villa Mabrouka in Tangier, which has been on and off the market in recent years with an asking price of around $10 million — will be sold to benefit the umbrella foundation, whose presidency has passed from Mr. Bergé to Mr. Cox, Mr. Fierro said.
No one should be worried about Mr. Cox’s housing, however. Villa Oasis, the lavish Orientalist fantasy where Mr. Bergé lived in Marrakesh, is part of the Majorelle Foundation, but is Mr. Cox’s in all but name, a perk that comes with the guardianship of Mr. Saint Laurent’s artistic legacy.
For all the clucking and tallying, Mr. Cox and Mr. Berge’s wedding was met with little more than a nod by those who track the movements of the forbidding and glamorous, if increasingly diminished, clan that surrounded Mr. Saint Laurent.
Christopher Gibbs, a neighbor in Tangier, where Mr. Cox has a residence of his own, called him “a saintly figure, which could not be said of Pierre.” Mr. Gibbs, a retired dealer in high-bohemian antiques who dressed the sets for the Mick Jagger film “Performance,” praised Mr. Cox for being “such a wonderful support to Pierre, through thick and thin, and for so many years. I weep for Madison having all this responsibility. It’s beyond the call of duty.”
Jane Kramer, in her takedown of Mr. Bergé in The New Yorker in 1994, put Mr. Bergé’s unsaintliness another way, writing, “He has a lugubrious, rather terrifying self-regard.” He appears “undisturbed by the tempering plain truths of self-reflection,” she wrote, noting that his wrath was “legendary.”
Mr. Bergé had more than one “L’Amour Fou” (crazy love), the name he gave the 2010 documentary about him and Mr. Saint Laurent. In published letters he wrote to Mr. Saint Laurent after the designer died, he made Mr. Cox’s place in the hierarchy of his heart clear.
“With you, Madison remains the most important relationship of my life.” He arrived “when alcohol and drugs had taken possession of you.”
“Thanks to Madison, probably, I weathered the storm,” Mr. Bergé continued. “He gave me what I needed: his youth, culture, courage, integrity, love.”
“I didn’t leave you,” Mr. Bergé went on to write. “I could have during this time with Madison, I almost did. Finally, it was he who’d had enough, who left.”
“You loved him, hated him, then loved him again.”
Maria Callas could not have sung the strangulated story of Mr. Bergé, Mr. Saint Laurent and Mr. Cox any better.
In 1976, nearly two decades after meeting, Mr. Bergé broke romantically from Mr. Saint Laurent. Still, jealousy and possessiveness ran high, and the men remained business partners.
Accounts of the Cox-Bergé introduction vary. Mr. Cox has placed it in Paris in 1978; Annabelle d’Huart, a jewelry designer and member of the old Saint Laurent tribe, puts their first meeting in New York a year earlier, when Mr. Cox was a student at Parsons. At the time, Mr. Bergé was involved with Joël Le Bon, who was in charge of the music for the Saint Laurent shows and worked for Interview magazine in Paris.
”I introduced Joël to Madison, they fell in love, and Madison followed Joël to Paris, transferring to Parsons there,” Ms. d’Huart said.
Mr. Bergé got to know Mr. Cox better during a trip they took with her and Mr. Le Bon. to the Aeolian Islands the following summer.
According to Mattia Bonetti, a furniture designer who knew Mr. Cox in Paris in the 1980s, “Madison was first with Joël, then Yves, then finally Pierre.”
After the holiday in the Aeolians, “Madison ascended quickly in the Saint Laurent clan,” Ms. d’Huart said. “Joël no longer measured up and was dropped. The clan was like a tank that rolled over you, then moved on, laughing loudly and shrugging, ‘Who cares?’ Joël died of AIDS, forgotten.”
Mr. Bonetti said that in the beginning, Mr. Cox and Mr. Bergé “saw each other, not in a hidden way, but separate from Yves, to avoid scenes.” Over dinner one night when Mr. Cox had stepped away from the table, Mr. Bonetti said Mr. Bergé asked him, “‘What do I have to do to keep him?’ I told him, ‘You have to give Madison everything, and I don’t mean materially, because otherwise he’s going to leave.’”
Mr. Bergé felt obliged to engage someone else for the garden at Gabriel, because of the tension that using Mr. Cox would have created with Mr. Saint Laurent. The job fell to a Louis Benech, who would later turn his hand to the Tuileries.
“I said to Pierre that I didn’t see the point of my working at Gabriel when he could hire his friend,” Mr. Benech recalled. “‘Too complicated,’” he said. “‘Period.’”
Peter Dunham, a decorator in Los Angeles, met Mr. Cox in Paris during his early years with Mr. Bergé. “Pierre really didn’t allow Madison to have friends,” Mr. Dunham said. “He lived a very controlled, gilded-cage existence.”
Jane Stubbs, an antiquarian bookseller, was commissioned by Mr. Bergé to create a Morocco-theme library for a guest room at Mabrouka. She remembered “arriving in Tangier with Madison and waiting at the luggage carousel. His phone rang. It was Pierre. ‘Where have you been? You were supposed to get in at 5:25.’ It was 5:27.”
The triangle collapsed during Christmas 1987, when, as Mr. Bergé wrote, Mr. Saint Laurent began hiding tumblers of whiskey from him behind the Jacques Grange taffeta curtains at Gabriel.
Mr. Cox retreated to New York, opening an office and remaking his life with Konstantin Kakanias, an illustrator and artistt. Mr. Bergé took up with Robert Merloz, a young designer he backed with company money. Mr. Merloz’s collection flopped.
Christopher Mason, a musician and social chronicler, said that when Mr. Cox left him, “Pierre was flabbergasted. He couldn’t believe anyone would dare walk out on him.”
Mr. Cox also enjoyed, and was sometimes inconvenienced by, what might be called “amitiés amoureuses” (pararomantic friendships), with Ms. Stubbs and Marian McEvoy, the author of “Glue Gun Decor: How to Dress Up Your Home — from Pillows and Curtains to Sofas and Lampshades.”
Mr. Cox, with a B.F.A. in environmental design and an address book fortified by Mr. Bergé’s, has never lacked business. His clients include Michael Bloomberg, Marella Agnelli, Lauren Santo Domingo and Anne Bass, who let him loose on a thousand acres in Litchfield County, Conn.
At one point Nancy Novogrod, a former magazine editor, expressed interest in hiring Mr. Cox in Litchfield. But the message came back that he had given Ms. Bass an exclusive.
Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article suggested in one instance that Jaimal Odedra and Pierre Bergé were a couple. Mr. Odedra is the partner of Madison Cox. The earlier version also misstated Konstantin Kakanias’s profession. He is primarily an illustrator and visual artist, not a cartoonist.
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