How a Picasso painting was sold in Cologne – DW – 06/06/2023

How a Picasso painting was sold in Cologne – DW – 06/06/2023

2023-06-06 15:50:00

At the anniversary auction, which was held for the 500th time, on June 5 and 6, 2023 in Van Ham house in Cologne paintings by famous masters were exhibited, among them – American painter and sculptor of French origin Louise Bourgeois, German-Swiss artist Paul Klee, one of the largest masters of German postmodernism Sigmar Polke, German artist, collagist and writer Kurt Schwitters (Kurt Schwitters), French painter, native of Russia Serge Polyakoff (Sergei Georgievich Polyakov, born January 8, 1900 in Moscow, died October 12, 1969 in Paris). And this is not the whole list of names: a total of about five hundred works of art. However, all attention, of course, was focused on the painting by Pablo Picasso “Female Bust” (“Buste de Femmes”) from a German private collection. According to art historians, it depicts Picasso’s second wife, Jacqueline Roque (1927-1986).

Battle for Picasso: how the auction went

On Monday, June 5, it was summer-like hot in Cologne. Even by the beginning of the auction at 18:00, it was still stuffy outside, and passions were literally seething in the auction house itself. Expensive cars were parked at the entrance, and the smell of exquisite perfumes hung in the air of the overcrowded hall, and the tension was red-hot to the limit: who will get the next masterpiece of the great master? Who is ready to offer the highest price for it?

Markus Eisenbeis, owner of the Cologne auction house Van Ham Photo: Victor Weitz/DW

The buzz in the hall fell silent only when the auctioneer headed for the podium. It was the current owner of the family auction house Van Ham – the son of its founder Markus Eisenbeis (Markus Eisenbeis). In 1996, he took over the family business, leaving behind a career in banking. The auction house called “Kunsthaus am Museum” was founded in 1959 by his mother, art historian Carola van Ham. As the first female auctioneer in Europe, she quickly propelled the company to market leadership with her business acumen and knowledge of art history.

But back to the auction itself. This is a competition among buyers for the right to purchase an object put up for auction. Each of them already has a starting price and they are offered for sale in lots. Moreover, not all auctioneers, but only a part of them, are in the hall, in which hammer knocks are heard. Many of the potential buyers participate in online auctions, others are in touch by phone, others send their representatives to the auction. Very rarely in the hall are the future owners of purchases in person. They tend to try not to stress themselves by watching the auction from afar.

Auction house VAN HAM in Cologne built in the architectural style of the Bauhaus
In the summer of 2014, the auction house moved to a new building in the Radertal district of Cologne. It was built in the Bauhaus architectural style, and its bright and spacious rooms are ideal for exhibitions and auctions.Photo: Victor Weitz/DW

“The object is considered sold only after the blow of the auctioneer’s hammer. If it was not there, then the object was not sold due to the fact that it did not reach the minimum value assessment by the owner or experts,” explains Eliza Dorin, an employee of the press service of the Van Ham joint-stock house ( Elisa Dorin, who, half an hour before the start of the auction, agreed to take me through his showroom and tell me about the upcoming two days of trading.

“The pride of our auction can rightfully be considered the painting by Pablo Picasso of the late period “Buste de Femmes” from a German private collection. For the first time in a quarter of a century, a Picasso painting is put up for sale in Germany, and this, of course, is an event not only for our promotional house, but also for the whole country,” Eliza Dorin said in an interview with DW.

Its value was estimated by the auction house and experts from 1.5 to 2.5 million euros. The hopes of the auction house that its price would be much higher were justified. The Picasso painting was put up for sale at the very end of the evening under lot number 54. And it was the longest and hottest auction, as expected. It started with a starting price of 1.4 million euros and after four and a half minutes of heated trading, its price rose by two million euros, when the auction leader Markus Eisenbeis confirmed its completion at around 3.4 million euros with a blow of the hammer. There was thunderous applause in the hall.

Painting by Pablo Picasso
Painting by Pablo Picasso “Female Bust” went under the hammer for 3.4 million eurosPhoto: Victor Weitz/DW

“It’s a bit unfortunate that the amount was not round, three and a half million euros would have sounded much better,” Markus Eisenbeis, the owner of the auction house, said with a smile a little later in an interview with DW. But at the same time, he admits that he is very pleased with the results of the first day of the auction: “We have reached a new sales record – a painting by Pablo Picasso has gone for 3.4 million euros. Is it possible not to rejoice?” When asked by DW who became the new owner of the Picasso work, the auctioneer Eisenbeiss only said that it was bought by a well-known American gallery on behalf of a private collector living in Switzerland. “So, the painting will leave Germany, but still remain in Europe,” the owner of the Cologne auction house assured DW.

It is worth noting that the total cost of the painting, including taxes, will cost the Swiss private collector 4 million 350 thousand euros. Information about the new owners of works of art is strictly confidential, so the auction house under no pretext does not issue it to either private individuals or members of the press. Private buyers generally remain anonymous. And taking pictures of the auction participants during the auction is allowed only from the back, Eliza Dorin noticed, accompanying me to the hall, in which the first part of the anniversary auction of the Van Ham auction house had just begun.

The atmosphere at the auction in Cologne

Markus Eisenbeis, an experienced auctioneer and owner of the house, skillfully discharged the tense atmosphere with jokes and an easy bidding style. The vast majority of paintings and art objects were sold at prices many times higher than experts’ forecasts.

The excitement was caused by one of two paintings by the French painter of Russian origin Serge Polyakoff “Composition abstraite” (“Abstract composition”), written by the artist in 1967. Its estimated cost ranged from 250 to 350 thousand euros. The painting was sold for 550 thousand euros.

Painting by Serge Poliakoff
Painting by Serge Poliakoff “Composition abstraite” sold for 550 thousand eurosPhoto: Victor Weitz/DW

For 550 thousand euros, an abstract painting by the French artist of German origin Hans Hartung, written by him in 1947, went under the hammer. The picture of the German expressionist artist Hermann Max Pechstein (Hermann Max Pechstein) from the series “Entertainment” (“Unterhaltung”) cost the buyer by phone 737 thousand euros. The work of the 93-year-old artist from Dusseldorf Günther Uecker (Günther Uecker) “White Scream” (“Weißer Schrei”) went under the hammer for 501 thousand euros. For 165 thousand euros, an image on cardboard measuring 96.5 x 96.5 cm of the world-famous cartoon character, one of the symbols of The Walt Disney Company, Mickey Mouse, was sold, made by the American artist Andy Warhol in 1981, six years before his death . Of the 54 works of art, only two or three paintings were not sold on the first day. The total amount of trading for the first evening approached 14 million euros.

See also:

#Picasso #painting #sold #Cologne


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent News

Editor's Pick