Despite Covid: World records and 15 works in the millions at Ketterer Kunst

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Despite Covid: World records and 15 works in the millions at Ketterer Kunst
Albert Oehlen, Triptych, 1988, mixed media on panel, each 200 x 150 cm/78.7 x 59 inches. Estimate: €1,500,000-2,500,000 / US$ 1,725,000-2.875,000.

MUNICH.- With total proceeds of almost € 42 million in the second half of 2021, Ketterer Kunst, the leading auction house for art from 1900 to today in the European Union, realized the best season result in the industry in Germany for the seventh time in a row. At the same time, the auction house once more confirms its first place in the German art auctioneer ranking with an impressive sales total of € 88 million including Online Only Auctions for the entire year of 2021. Thus Ketterer Kunst exceeds - despite Covid - the record level of the last two years by 45%. A total of 151 results with six-figure prices outshine all previous records, on top of that some 15 results landed beyond the magical million euro line - more than ever before in a single year. Numerous world records round off the sensational balance.

"This record result is primarily a result of our strategy: We focus on quality, internationality and service," says Robert Ketterer, auctioneer and owner of Ketterer Kunst. He explains: “External factors such as Brexit and the low interest rates provided additional boost. However, we owe the success of our auctions primarily to the first-class consignments and the trust our clients put in us.

The Rare Books Department started the year’s second auction term with a strong performance at the end of November. Now the departments of Art from the 19th to the 21st Century convinced. Total proceeds of more than € 30 million were grossed in the Evening Sale alone. This is an increase of almost 10% with 35% less objects on offer. With a sales quota of 92% by lots at the end of this year, we continuously stay above 90% over the whole year.

Bidding was dominated by German and international private collectors. The saleroom was fully occupied in compliance with the current Covid regulations. Phones, proxy bids and scores of online bids set the tone. “They raised the results for works by world-class artists to the highest international level,” said Robert Ketterer. "Insiders attending the auction raved that these were results like in London and New York." A professionally directed live-stream broadcast the event all over the world, so that viewers could share the excitement from the comfort of their homes when the top lots were called up:

The surprising star of the evening was Albert Oehlen's monumental “Triptychon” (lot 243), called up for € 1,500,000, it predominantly made the hearts of collectors in Germany and Switzerland beat faster. After a tough struggle for the important programmatic picture from the period of transition from figuration to abstraction, the liberating bid of € 3,600,000 from a Dutch private collector stopped the lively competition on the internet and on the phones. Thus Ketterer Kunst did not only auction a work for more than € 3 million for the first time, but also exceeded the current record for a work by the artist in Germany by more than a ten-fold.

The sale of Alexej von Jawlensky's colorful “Woman's Head with Flowers in Her Hair” (lot 232), a fantastic rediscovery that had been owned by the same family for 100 years, was eagerly awaited. No other work by the artist with a comparable quality and expressiveness has been offered on the international auction market in recent years. This fact was rewarded and aroused a great desire, especially in Europe. With a bid of more than two million euros, it was the to date highest bid submitted in a German auction over the internet. With total proceeds of € 2,905,000, which were eventually granted over the telephone, the portrait will now enrich a Swiss private collection.

“Parting from Jawlensky's work after so many decades is not easy for me, but with this great price I can fund a heart matter”, said the consigner. “I will support an ecological farm in my home region, because they urgently need money for future investments. Perhaps my donation will inspire other collectors to follow a similar path.”

“In fact, we currently see a trend that collectors regulate their estate while they are still alive”, says Nicola Countess Keglevich, Senior Director at Ketterer Kunst. She adds: “I am very pleased that the good sale of Jawlensky's masterpiece at Ketterer Kunst will also set a strong mark on the German auction market.”

Pierre Soulages’ powerful composition “Peinture 92 x 65 cm, 3 aot 1954” (lot 209) from the groundbreaking, early creative years, for which a dozen telephones competed in addition to many absentee bids, found a new home in France and was applauded. In the face of strong competition from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and America, the work was called up with € 600,000 and quickly surpassed the million euro line and eventually soared to a result of € 2,245,000. This also set a new record for a work by the artist in Germany.

The 4th place in the Evening Sales also received applause: Emil Nolde's “Buchsbaumgarten” (lot 213), a document of the eventful German history, which has now opened a new chapter in its provenance history after an amicable restitution, was called up at € 1,200,000. For total proceeds of € 2,185,000 it will go to a private collection in the Rhineland, relegating a fierce competitor from Austria to second place.

Sean Scully's “Blue Yellow Figure” (lot 207) set a German record and more than doubled the calling price. With proceeds of € 1,345,000 which a private collector from Southern Germany granted against strong competition from all over Europe and the USA, the large-format oil painting joins the small circle of ten works by the artist with hammer prices above the million euro line.

Otto Mueller's “Drei badende Mdchen” (lot 218), painted on burlap with glue compound, used to be part of the collection of Prof. Erwin Petermann, director of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. Now they are on their way to Lower Saxony, from where a private collector lifted the starting price of € 300,000 to a result of € 1,045,000 and thus relegated numerous art lovers, especially from all over Germany, to places second and beyond. The same lover of Expressionism also won Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's oil painting “Im Bordell” (lot 217), called up at € 400,000, he honored the work with a result of € 985,000.

While Christo's two-part work “The Gates. Project for Central Park, NY” (lot 262) was particularly sought-after in Germany and was eventually rewarded a price of € 745,000, Alex Katz's portrait “Tara” (lot 230) was, apart from some Southern German collectors, very popular abroad. The large-format work in the artist's typically matter of-fact, cool visual language made phone lines to France, Great Britain and Switzerland run just as hot as to the East and West coast of the USA. In the end, however, a collector from Italy won the impressive oil painting from 2003 for € 901,000 and thus set a record** in Germany.

In the field of sculptures Georg Kolbe delivered a particularly brilliant performance. Half a dozen phone bidders from all over Germany eagerly awaited this graceful expression of femininity to be called up at the beginning of the Evening Sale as lot number 202. A persistent collector from Berlin won the lifetime cast “Javanische Tnzerin” for proceeds of € 649,000. This way he not only set a new record for a work by the artist in Germany, but also more than doubled the previous record.

The range of offers from the Deutsche Bank Collection also celebrated fantastic successes and was led by Ernst Wilhelm Nay’s oil painting “In freien Rhythmen” (lot 223), which was called up at € 150,000. Almost a dozen collectors from all over Germany on the phones showed their appreciation for a work made at the height of the important series of the “Disc Pictures”.

A collector from North Rhine-Westphalia finally granted a price of € 575,000. Called up at € 40,000, the oil painting “Ideogram I” (lot 220) by Willi Baumeister saw an even more impressive increase. Only after a long bidding war at the end of which two persistent telephone bidders wrestled with each other, a collector from Switzerland was able to win the trophy for proceeds of € 275,000.

A large work in an unusal portrait format by Katharina Grosse (lot 225) set a new world record. A collector from Berlin rewarded the composition by the renowned contemporary artist with his bid of € 500,000. Competitors from all over Germany and Austria were left empty-handed.

With an annual sales total of € 4 million, the department of 19th Century Art not only exceeded the excellent result it realized last year, but also achieved the best figures in its history. In the December auction it was able to score a world record** again:

Peder Mrk Mnsted's “Flusslandschaft im Spreewald” (lot 356) was met with great enthusiasm from a private collector in Brandenburg who finally lifted the work, which was offered on the international auction market for the first time, to € 275,000 and sent other art lovers from the rest of Germany, Estonia, Sweden and America to the sidelines.

Other guarantors of success in the department include Edward Cucuel, Edward Theodore Compton Caspar David Friedrich, Karl Hagemeister, Max Liebermann, Hendrik Willem Mesdag, PierreAuguste Renoir, Franz von Stuck and Heinrich von Zgel.“

“It was a great year for 19th Century Art”, says department head Sarah Mohr. “The total annual sales quota of 94% by objects speaks for itself. I am particularly pleased that 19th Century Art is appreciated by more and more people. We were able to increase the number of first-time buyers from 30% in the first half of the year to a fantastic 40% in the second half.”

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