French businessman Pierre Bergé, who established the Yves Saint Laurent label with his partner Yves Saint Laurent, died on Friday at his home in the south of France at the age of 86.

According to the BBC, Bergé died after suffering a long illness.

An advocate for LGBT rights, Bergé in 1994 founded Sidaction, which raises funds for AIDS research and treatment. He was also a patron of the arts.

Bergé met Yves Saint Laurent in 1958. They were romantically involved until an amicable split in 1976. They continued as friends and business partners.

According to The New York Times, the men entered a civil union a few days before Saint Laurent died of brain cancer in 2008.

“It's going to be necessary to part now,” Bergé said at Saint Laurent's funeral in Paris. “I don't know how to do it because I never would have left you. Have we ever left each other before?”

Two museums dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent are scheduled to open later this year in Paris. Bergé had been due to inaugurate both.

“Yves and I loved one another,” Bergé told the Witness program last year. “It is important to say that. And we set out to create an important new couture house and we had a magnificent success with it.”