BERLIN—Germany’s top two auction houses— Lempertz, Cologne, and Villa Grisebach, Berlin—report 2006 totals that surpass year-ago sales by more than 30 percent. Lempertz posted €53 million ($70 million); Villa Grisebach followed with €40 million ($52 million). (For the year 2005, each house posted a total of approximately €30 million, or $37.5 million.)
Both houses report that autumn auctions contributed to their considerable growth in 2006. At Lempertz’s Old Master sale on Nov. 18, one of the fastest-rising works was Farmer’s Wedding, by David Vinckboons (1576-circa 1632); estimated at €20,000/30,000, it was pursued by ten phone bidders and finally fetched a hammer price of €160,000 ($208,000).
In its modern and contemporary art sales from Nov. 29-30, Lempertz realized a number of strong prices, such as the €2.4 million auction record for Heinrich Campendonk (1889-1957). His two-sided work Red Painting with Horses, 1913, was estimated at €800,000/1.2 million, but the fierce bidding didn’t stop until it hit €2.4 million ($3.12 million).
From Nov. 30-Dec. 2, Villa Grisebach held its jubilee auctions—the most successful in the house’s 20-year history. A German record was set with the €1.9 million ($2.47 million) paid for a late 1925 painting by Max Liebermann (1847-1935),more than triple the high estimate of €600,000. The garden piece, a popular subject with German collectors, fell to a buyer from the south of Germany. Establishing another national record was the high-estimate figure of €1.5 million ($1.95 million) given for a 1919 work by Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)—Hohe Häuser IV (High Houses IV).
Hampel of Munich grossed a respectable €30 million ($37.5 million) total in 2006. On Dec. 8, Hampel sold, among other things, Old Master paintings from the Hinrich Bischoff collection. Bischoff, a businessman and collector, also was active as an Old Master expert; he had amassed a fortune of about x500 million ($650 million) and an impressive number of important paintings.
After his death in 2005 at 69, his estate came up for auction. The steepest rise was noted for a painting by Jacob Isaacsz. Swanenburgh (1571-1631), The Temptation of St Augustine, which was bought by a Paris dealer for €220,000 ($290,000), despite its modest estimate of just €40,000 ($52,000). A work by Godfried Schalcken (1643-1706), Art Appreciation by Candlelight, fetched €225,000 ($295,000), comfortably above its estimate of €160,000, from a Netherlands buyer. And a painting by Jan Brueghel went for €280,000, or $365,000. (Auction figures above reflect the hammer price.)