BERLIN—German auction houses experienced strong sales growth in 2005, particularly in their winter auctions.
The three market leaders marked two-figure increases on their bottom lines. Lempertz, Cologne, made €38 million ($44.85 million) with their sales of a wide range of art (including photography). Berlin-based Villa Grisebach (see ANL, 12/6/05), which focuses on art of the 19th-21st centuries, came close to that with their turnover of €37.76 million ($44.55 million). Third was Nagel, Stuttgart, with their best result yet, €28.5 million ($33.63 million).
Lempertz, successful in Old Master, modern and contemporary art, had a strong Asian art sale. A sitting Buddha, 18th-century, related to the central Buddha statue in the temple in Lhasa, Tibet, was estimated at €85,000 ($100,300) but flew to €125,000 ($147,000).
An even sharper rise: A Guanyin on a lotus-base, 16th-17th century, estimated at €32,000 ($37,760), was hammered down for €84,000 ($99,120); it went to a buyer from China. Chinese art and antiques proved popular, with a Qing dynasty (1644-1911) Guandi, starting at just €3,500 ($4,130) and rising to €37,000 ($43,660). A brush jar, blue and white, Kangxi period (1662-1722), started bidding at €1,500 ($1,770) and didn’t stop attracting buyers until the hammer fell at €30,000 ($35,400). The Chinese section was 99 percent sold by lot and 120 percent by value. Other sections fared well, too, making this auction one of the best Asian art sales in Lempertz’s history.
Nagel’s success was highlighted by an art and antiques sale on Dec. 8-9, which made an overestimate total of €2.06 million ($2.43 million). A 19th-century master, Nikolaus Gysis (1842–1901), whose Orientalist portrait of a man against a dark background was estimated to fetch €5,000 ($5,900), took €95,000 ($112,000).
Villa Grisebach scored well with photography, including works from the Kurt Kirchbach collection. One of these, a study of dancer Palucca, 1925, by Charlotte Rudolph, soared above its €500 ($590) estimate to realize €10,500, or $12,390. (Figures refer to hammer prices only.)