ARTnewsletter Archive

Auction Roundup: Spring Sales In Germany Show Market Recovery

Cologne-based auctioneer Lempertz was content, but not excited with the results of its spring auction series.

BERLIN—Cologne-based auctioneer Lempertz was content, but not excited with the results of its spring auction series. With the Meissen porcelain factory celebrating its 300th birthday this year, Meissen appeared often in decorative-arts auctions. Three Meissen vases with chinoiserie ornament, ca. 1740, estimated at €90,000/120,000 were sold for €180,000 ($234,000), the top price at Lempertz’s decorative arts sale (all prices are hammer).

The market for Old Masters remained steady, as indicated by the house’s May 15 sale. A painting of a late Gothic cathedral above a river, said to be by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, was sold for a hammer price of €380,000 ($494,000) against an estimate of €150,000/180,000.

Landscape Near Kaupanger With Church, 1847, a painting by Norwegian artist Johann Christian Clausen Dahl (1788–1857), carried a high estimate of €150,000, but the price went up to €170,000 ($221,000). On the other hand, a portrait of a nobleman by Nicolaes Maes (1634–1693), which had been bought at Sotheby’s Amsterdam in 2007 for €48,000 ($67,200), above its high estimate, and which had been bought in at a 2009 sale on an estimate of €45,000/55,000, was bought in again now against an estimate of €40,000/50,000.

At Lempertz’s sale of the collection of Carl Vogel (1923–2006), a longtime professor at the College for Fine Arts in Hamburg, on June 1, a record was set for a print by Gerhard Richter. (A large portion of Vogel’s collection consisted of works on paper.) Richter’s screenprint Hund (Dog), 1965, estimated at just €20,000/30,000, sold for a hammer price of €180,000 ($216,000).

Berlin was the stage, as usual, for the Villa Grisebach auctions, which yielded solid, if not stellar, results. Prices for work by Leipzig School artist Neo Rauch failed to reach their previous highs. His Hauptgebäude (Main building), 1997, which is somewhat atypical of Rauch’s work, was estimated to fetch €200,000/300,000. The owner had tried to sell it privately with an even higher price tag, sources said. It sold now within estimate for a premium-inclusive €297,500 ($364,081).

A buyer paid €440,000 ($528,000), with premium, for Sean Scully’s Grey Fold, 2005 (estimate: €350,000/450,000). At a separate Grisebach sale of “selected works,” also held June 4, work by Alexey Jawlensky, ever popular in Germany, also brought strong prices. The painting Abstrakter Kopf: Letzte Strahlen (Abstract head: Last Rays), 1931, sold for €357,000 ($436,900) against an estimate of €250,000/350,000.

One interesting item was Rotes und blaues Pferd, 1912, a watercolor with opaque white by Franz Marc, including his signature depictions of horses. The work sold for €339,150 ($415,052) against an estimate of €150,000/200,000, a strong price for a watercolor the size of a postcard.

The five Villa Grisebach auctions (including photography) brought in a total of €14million ($16.8million) against an estimate of €10.5million ($12.6million).