Daniel Cordier, gay art dealer and one of the last surviving wartime members of the French Resistance, has died at the age of 100.
His death on Friday leaves only one survivor among the 1,038 men and women who were awarded the title of “Companions of the Liberation”, or Heroes of the Resistance, after World War II.
The news was confirmed by the Ministry of the Armed Forces and President Emmanuel Macron, who said in a statement: “When France was in peril, he and his comrades took all the risks to keep France true to itself. . We owe them our freedom and our honor. “
Born in the southwest of the city of Bordeaux on August 10, 1920, Cordier was only 19 when Paris surrendered to the Nazis and he fled to join the French Free Gaullist movement in London.
He stayed there a few weeks before his 22nd birthday, when he was parachuted into France as a radio station.
The course of Cordier’s life changed on July 30, when he was ordered to take papers to Jean Moulin, the leader of the Resistance. It seems he made a good impression when Moulin appointed him secretary the next day.
The two worked together to plan sabotage operations against German forces until Moulin’s arrest by the Gestapo in June 1943.
It was Moulin who introduced him to the world of modern art and, after the war, Cordier embarked on a new career as a leading art dealer.
He quickly amassed a collection of works by artists including Georges Braque, Chaïm Soutine, Hans Hartung, Jacques Villon, Dado and many others. He began exhibiting them in the 1950s, and between 1956 and 1964 his gallery in rue de Miromesnil was one of the most important in Paris.
Cordier has kept his sexuality a closely guarded secret for most of his life and it wasn’t until the late 1990s that he quietly declared himself gay.
He later explained in his 2009 autobiography Alias Caracalla that being homosexual was “absolutely unthinkable” when he was young because “the hatred towards homosexuality was terrible”.
Daniel Cordier received the last honor of his life in June, when the British Ambassador to France awarded him an OBE. Prime Minister Boris Johnson personally paid tribute to his “courage and sacrifice in defending himself and the whole world against fascism”.