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London Auction Preview: ‘Ohne Titel’ by Martin Kippenberger (1992)


Kippenberger, Ohne Titel (Meine Lügen Sind Ehrlich), 1992.


It’s not always possible to know what motivates a collector to sell an artwork at auction, but estimates can provide a look into their thinking. Assuming the work is not being sold because one of the three Ds (Debt, Divorce, Death), those numbers hint at the returns that collectors are hoping to achieve on the block. In the run up to the London contemporary auctions next week, Skate’s is focusing on the top five lots that are repeat auction sales, one each day. What kind of returns are collectors looking for in London? Take a look.

First up is this juicy, relatively late, and quite large Martin Kippenberger (1953–1997), Ohne Titel (Meine Lügen Sind Ehrlich) (1992), which will go in front of the bidders on Friday, October 17. An oil on canvas, it measures 78.75 by 94.5 inches. It was first sold from Galerie Bärbel Grässlin in Frankfurt, and has appeared at auction once before, in November 2001, at Sotheby’s New York, where it made $247,750.

The current seller, who bought the work in 2010 from New York’s Luhring Augustine gallery is aiming for £2.5 million to £3.5 million ($4.08 million to $5.71 million). Calculating from its last public sale price, in 2001, reaching those estimates would yield expected rates of return (ERR) between 24.03 percent and 27.30 percent: a pretty solid performance. (That initial consigner may wish he or she held onto the work.)

According to Skate’s art market database, if the work sells in the middle of its estimate, it will become the 2388th-highest auction price on record. Its potential neighbors in that all-time ranking would be a Qi Baishi sold in November 2010 for $4.890 million and a Tiepolo hammered for $4.889 million in July 2013.

Kippenberger is ranked 130 in Skate’s Top 10,000 index by total market value, and his market has seen an upsurge recently, with collectors tending to favor works from earlier in his career.

Below, a look at the German maestro’s top prices, which is led by the 1988 self-portrait that sold for a gargantuan $18.6 million last December at Christie’s ritzy “If I Live I’ll See You Tuesday” sale, and their place on the Skate’s Top 10,000 list.

352 Untitled 1988 5/12/2014 $18,645,000
1649 Untitled 1981 11/13/2013 $6,437,000
2011 Untitled 1981 5/14/2014 $5,541,000
2269 Untitled (from the series Hand-Painted Pictures) 1992 10/11/2012 $5,084,871
3044 Untitled 1988 5/12/2009 $4,114,500
3152 Fliegender tanga (Flying tanga) (5 works) 1982 2/11/2010 $4,011,173
3514 Paris bar 1991 10/16/2009 $3,685,359
4563 Eifrau, die man Nicht schubladieren kann (Egg women who defies categorisation) 1996 2/12/2014 $2,988,341
4696 Nieder mit der Bourgeoisie (Down with the Bourgeoisie) (in 2 parts) 1983 10/18/2013 $2,919,783
5767 Untitled (from the series of Hand Painted Pictures) 1992 6/26/2013 $2,461,748
6890 Untitled (in 7 parts) 1990 10/14/2011 $2,091,176
8101 Kellner des… – Waiter of…REPEAT SALE 1991 10/16/2009 $1,785,531
9215 Terrorist/Touristin (in 2 parts) 1997 6/26/2012 $1,581,468
9381 Die Verbreitung der Mittelmäigkeit 1994 6/30/2010 $1,547,565
10001 Dinosaurierei 1996 3/8/2010 $1,462,158

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