Where do the connoisseur collectors of mainland Europe bid? Where can new collectors explore without being blinded by the razzle dazzle of the big-name auction houses of London and New York? We have listed the top 14 auction houses in Europe you need to know to be in the know.
Mainland Europe has a long standing tradition of auction houses that still keep their personality despite the volatile market. They are smaller, more personal and more versatile in the range of their lots. They cater to a collector base with consistent interest in Old Masters, Impressionist and modern art while they are steadily expanding their expertise to post-war and contemporary art. Their prices are more accessible than the London and New York market where the grandiose publicity sometimes pulls the prices over the natural limits. Take a look at the top auction houses of Europe with their specialties and notable lots:
Martin Böhm (Managing Director, Executive Officer), Lucas Tinzl (Managing Director, Executive Officer)
Old Masters & 19th century paintings, Modern and Contemporary Art, Antiques, Silver, Art Nouveau, Jewelry and Clocks
- Hans Memling, The Nativity, Undated, $1,365,000 – April 2016
- Enrico Castelleni, Superficie, 1960, $1,089,000 – June 2015
- Peter Paul Rubens, The Judgement of Paris, $988,546 – April 2016
Dorotheum is mainland Europe’s largest auction house, with about 600 auctions annually. They are one of the best when it comes to Old Masters, which is particularly popular with Viennese collectors. However, they are becoming a flag bearer also in Post-war and Contemporary Art.
Image: Workshop of Hans Memling (1435–1494) The Nativity, oil on panel, 99.2 x 72.5 cm Price realised €1,200,000 Photo courtesy of Dorotheum
Nicolas Orlowski (Chairman and CEO), François Tajan (Deputy Chairman and Auctioneer), Fabien Naudan (Vice Chairman), Francis Briest (Chairman of Supervisory Board and Strategy), Matthieu Lamoure (General Manager of Artcurial Motorcars)
Modern and Contemporary Art and Design, Old Masters, Orientalist Paintings, Books and Manuscripts, Classic Cars, Arm and Armor, Asian Art, Wine and Spirits.
- Zao Wou-Ki, 14.05.62, 1962, $1,746,469 – December 2015
- Jean Prouvé, unique Trapéze “Table Centrale”, 1956, $1,424,543 – October 2015
- Pablo Picasso, Verre et pichet, 1944, $1,159,104 – December 2015
Artcurial auction house consists of a team of 120 people at your disposal to attend to your needs as a buyer or seller. Embracing a more modern auction perspective, this relatively young auction house had a very good year in 2015, making them one of the top earning auction houses in France.
im Kinsky (established 1992)
Michael Kovacek (CEO), Ernst Ploil (CEO), Kareen M. Schmid (Old Masters Specialist), Astrid Pfeiffer (Contemporary Art Specialist), Monika Schweighofer (19th Century Paintings Specialist), Claudia Mörth-Gasser (Impressionist and Modern Art Specialist), Roswitha Holly (Antiques, Art Nouveau and Design Specialist)
Old Master and 19th century paintings, Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art, Art Nouveau, Design, Antiques
- Jan Brueghel the Younger, Blumenstrauss in einer skulptierten Vase, 1630, $2,363,970 – June 2015
- Albin Egger-Lienz, Drei Schnitter, 1921, $499,939 – November 2015
- Alfons Walde, Tiroler Bergdorf (Auracher Kirchl), 1944, $425,480 – November 2015
Im Kinsky puts an emphasis on the story an artwork tells – the artist who created it, its previous owners and the meanings it holds. They care about how the sale at their auction influences an object’s history and they like to unveil artworks from unknown collections.
Image: Albin Egger-Lienz (Austrian, 1868–1926), Drei Schnitter, 1921. Oil on canvas. 72 x 115 cm. Sold for $499,939 at im Kinsky. Photo courtesy of im Kinsky.
Bruun Rasmussen (established 1948)
Jesper Bruun Rasmussen (Auction Director and Chairman), Jakob Dupont (Managing Director), Frederick Bruun Rasmussen (Director, International Valuation and Sales), Alexa Bruun Rasmussen (Director, Branding and Valuer of Antique Silver)
Modern Art, Fine Art, Nordic Design, Silver, Antiques and Oriental Art
- Pierre Soulages, Peinture, 1963, $680,400 – September 2015
- Vilhelm Hammershoi, Landscape from Kongevejen near Gentofte, north of Copenhagen, Summer, 1892, $625,270 – March 2016
- Le Corbusier, Les dés sont jetés, d’aprés le carton de le Corbusier, 1960, $314,580 – June 2015
A family owned auction house since its founding, Bruun Rasmussen is among the biggest and the best in Northern Europe. They sell a significant amount of lots, especially online, from many departments. Their website is one of the easiest and most functional to use. Moreover, it is worth keeping an eye out especially because it is possible to find exceptional examples of Danish Modern designs and CoBrA paintings for accessible prices. They are also strong in the coins and other collectibles department. Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers pride themselves in providing quick and effective sale, directly towards the potential buyer wherever he or she may live in the world.
Image: Pierre Soulages: “Peinture”, 1963. Signed Soulages; dated on the reverse. Oil on canvas. 97 x 130 cm. Sold for: DKK 4,500,000 (€605,000) at Bruun Rasmussen. Photo courtesy of Bruun Rasmussen.
Tajan (established 1994)
Rodica Seward (Owner and Chairman), Nicolas de Moustier (General Manager)
Old Masters and 19th century Art, Impressionist and Modern Art, Post-war and Contemporary Art, Asian Art, Drawings, Photography, Design, Antiques, Jewelry, Warches, Fasion and Luxury Items, Comics, Books and Manuscripts, Wine and Spirits
- Fernand Léger, Une fleur et une figure, 1950, $734,461 – December 2015
- Henri Julien Felix Rousseau, Lion dévorant un boa, undated, $450,365 – December 2015
- Andy Warhol, Portrait of Wayne Gretzky, 1983, $422,217 – December 2015
The owner of Tajan, Rodica Seward, bought it from LVMH (French multinational luxury goods corporation) in 2003 has transformed the auction house, with added focus for Modern and Contemporary Art and Design.
Image: Fernand Léger (French, 1881–1955), Une Fleur Et Une Figure, 1950. Oil on canvas. 50.17 x 65.25 cm. Sold for: $734,461 at Tajan. Photo courtesy of Tajan
Auctionata (established 2012) – Now closed
Berlin, New York
Alexander Zacke (CEO), Susanne Zacke (Chief Marketplace Officer)
Fine and Decorative Arts, Asian Art, Antiques, Collectibles, Jewelry, Clocks and Watches, Wine, Luxury, Classic Cars
- Claude Monet, L’enfant a la Tasse, 1868, $542,834 – June 2015
- Fernando Botero, Naturaleza muerta, 1964, $362,950 – June 2015
- Paul Klee, Côte de Provence 5, 1927, $290,744 – June 2015
Auctionata is a leading online auction house and eCommerce company for art and luxury collectibles. As the inventor of the live stream auction, Auctionata broadcasts auctions in real-time and provides an online auction room that is accessible to bidders worldwide. Today, Auctionata is the biggest auction house in Germany with their headquarters in Berlin and operates globally with offices in New York, London, Zurich, Rome and Madrid. At Auctionata, an experienced and skilled expert authenticates every object. In 2015, they held nearly 250 auctions and achieved numerous record sales in various categories such as Contemporary Art, Fine Art, Antiques and Collectibles, Asian Art, Watches, Wine, Vintage Luxury Goods and Classic Cars. In total, Auctionata offers over 26,000 objects in its online shop.
Robert Ketterer (Owner and CEO), Gudrun Ketterer (Auctioneer)
19th Century, Modern, Post-war and Contemporary Art, Rare Books
- Günther Uecker, Hommage a Paul Scheerbart, undated, $2,109,938 – June 2015
- Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale, Attesa, 1960, $1,687,950 – June 2015
- Max Pechstein, Bildnis Charlotte Cuhrt, 1910, $928,373 – June 2015
The deep passion for art and a business strategy that combines tradition and innovation have made Ketterer Kunst one of Europe’s most renowned auction houses sixty years after the company was founded. Founded in 1954, Stuttgart, as a small gallery, Ketterer Kunst is now led by owner Robert Ketterer since 1994. They are an expert on especially Expressionism and German Modern Art with record priced masterworks from Kandinsky, Emil Nolde and Günther Uecker in their portfolio. They started selling art online since 2007 and now they enjoy their place among one of the major actors in the online art market. In 2015, Ketterer sold the painting by Max Pechstein “Portrait of Charlotte Cuhrt” for €825,000, more than two times the estimate, which was at €400,000. Ketterer Kunst also holds the world record for Max Pechstein with his two-sided painting “Weib mit Inder auf Teppich (Vorderseite), Früchte II (Rückseite)”. This piece was estimated € 600.000-800.000 and sold for € 3.480.000 in 2011.
Image: HERMANN MAX PECHSTEIN
Portrait of Charlotte Cuhrt, 1910. Oil on Canvas. Sold for: € 825.000 at Ketterer Kunst. Photo courtesy of Ketterer Kunst
Lempertz (established 1845)
Cologne, Berlin, Brussels
Henrick Hanstein (CEO), Takuro Ito (Managing Director)
Old Masters, Modern and Contemporary Art, Asian Art, African and Oceanic Art, Photography, Decorative Arts, Jewelry and Watches
- Pieter Brueghel the Younger, The Peasant Wedding Feast, undated, $1,242,427 – May 2016
- Friedrich Nerly, The Piazetta di San Marco by Moonlight, 1849, $562,266 – May, 2016
- Andrea di Bonaiuto, The Virgin and Child with Angel and Saints, undated, $519,483 – November, 2015
As the oldest family owned auction house in Europe, Lempertz’s history reaches back to 1798 as an antiquarian bookshop that offered auctions and it was officially founded as an auction house in 1845. Lempertz has become internationally renowned for auctioning important art estates. They hold auctions in Cologne, Berlin, Brussels, and Monaco, while offering branches and representatives in Munich, Zurich, New York, and São Paulo. The German auction house Lempertz offers specialist departments in fine arts, decorative arts, modern art, contemporary art, photographs, Asian art, and more. They are also known with their record sales.
Image: Pieter Brueghel the Younger, 1564 Brussels – 1637/1638 Antwerp, The Peasant Wedding Feast. Oil on panel. 41.5 x 58.9 cm. Sold for: €1.096.000 at Lempertz. Photo courtesy of Lempertz.
Nagel (established 1922)
Uwe Jourdan (CEO and Auctioneer), Rudolf Pressler (Procurator and Acquisitons), Andreas Hellig (Auctioneer)
Fine Art, Asian Art, Ethnographic Art, Antiques, Rugs and Carpets
- Zhan Yu, Pavillon unter kahlen Bäumen, undated , $271,444 – May 2016
- Qui Ying, Dame mit Dienerin und Hündchen, undated, $271,444 – May 2016
- Shitao, Stilleben mit Gemüse, undated, $231,016 – May 2016
One of Germany’s leading art auctioneers, Nagel Auktionen was founded in 1922 by Dr. Fritz Nagel. Located in Stuttgart, and holds three large art and antiques auctions each year, as well as two auctions of modern art and Asian art and collector’s rugs. In addition to these, they hold specialized and castle auctions. They are an expert in liquidating estates and entire collections.
Image: Zhang Yu, Pavillon unter kahlen Bäumen. Ink on paper. 44.00 x 29.00 cm. Sold for: €240,000 at Nagel. Photo courtesy of Nagel
Cambi Casa d’Aste (established 1998)
Marcello Cambi (Cofounder), Matteo Cambi (Cofounder and Antique Furniture Specialist), Sebastian Cambi (Cofounder and 19th and 20th Century Paintings Specialist), Giulio Cambi (Modern and Contemporary Art Specialist), Dario Mottola (Oriental Art Specialist), Piermaria Scagliola (Design Specialist)
Fine and Decorative Arts, Asian Art, Marine Art and Boats, Design, Antiques, Jewelry, Watches
- Gio Ponti, table, 1930, $421,096 – December 2015
- Lucio Fontana, table, 1952, $129,046 – December 2015
- Max Ingrand, A chandelier with diffuser and copper, 1965, $115,462 – December 2015
Founded in 1998, Cambi Auction House has headquarters in Genova and Milan. Since 2000, they hold auctions all over Italy and they attract buyers from all over the world. They specialize in all main types of fine art such as design, watches, oriental art, furniture and decor, painting, modern and contemporary art, sculpture, silver, porcelain and ceramics. Together with the traditional fine arts auctions, they stand out with their specialist auctions in some niche sectors such as maritime art, scientific instruments, fine frames and mirrors and so on.
Anna Thorud Hammer (CEO and General Manager), Agnes Beathe Steen Fosse (CEO of Online Auctions), Elisabeth Vik Forsberg (Fine Art and Edvard Munch Specialist), Tor Henrik Fjelldal (Fine Art, Antiques and Modern Design Specialist)
Edvard Munch, modern art, antiques, design, silver, porcelain and glass, jewelry and watches, wine
- Christian Krohg, Et hjørne av mitt atelier, 1884, $120,330 – May 2015
- Andy Warhol, The Scream (After Munch), 1984, $104,890 – October 2015
- Edvard Munch, Birch Trees and Man Carrying Twigs, 1881, $57,915 – May 2015
Blomqvist Kunsthandel was established in 1870 as one of the Nordic countries’ first art dealers. Today, more than 140 years later, Blomqvist remains Norway’s oldest, largest and most renowned distributor of art and antiques. They specialize in Norwegian art and antiques, paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures, furniture, silver, china, glass, country antiques, carpets, jewelry and oriental items. Blomqvist is also a recognized expert on the oeuvre of Edvard Munch and still the world leader in sales of Munch’s works and sells the most graphic works by him in the world on the two annual Munch Auctions they hold.
Image: Edvard Munch. “Birch trees and man carrying twig” 1881/1882. Oil on board, 35×28 cm. Sold for: $57,915 at Blomqvist. Photo courtesy of Blomqvist.
Anna-Karin Laurell (CEO), Carl Barkman (Head Specialist), Anna Persson (Head of Art Department), Lena Rydén (Modern Art Specialist), Lena Nytén (Photography and Contemporary Art Specialist)
Modern and Contemporary Art, Swedish Art, Decorative Arts, Antiques, Design, Collectibles, Fashion, Jewelry
- Anders Zorn, Kapprodd (“Boat Race”), 1886, $1,569,956 – December 2015
- Lena Cronqvist, Trolovningen, 1975, $1,370,609 – May 2016
- Hilding Linnqvist, Fågeltorget-Chinon, 1921, $969,657 – October 2015
Founded in 1870 by Polish nobleman Henryk Bukowski in Stockholm, Bukowskis is one of the leading art businesses in the Nordic region. Bukowskis hammer auctions are represented by the Classic Sales, the Modern Sale and the Contemporary Sale in Stockholm, each auction held twice yearly – in spring and fall. Beyond these, Bukowskis also offers a range of specialist concept sales, such as Fashion & Diamonds, Real Estate and Charity Auctions. Online sales are conducted by Bukowskis Market with showrooms in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö (Sweden) as well as in Helsinki (Finland). The Bukowskis Market online offers interesting objects ranging from collectors items to interior decoration from all epochs and in all price ranges.
Image: ANDERS ZORN, “KAPPRODD” (“BOAT RACE”). Signed Zorn and dated -86. Watercolour 29.5 x 44 cm. Sold for: SEK 13,687,500 ($1,569,956) at Bukowskis. Photo courtesy of Bukowskis.
Niclas Forsman (CEO), Fredrik Fellbom (Prints Specialist), Marc Maurie (Old Masters, Sculpture and Russian Art Specialist), Pierre Olbers Saint Bellies (Swedish Painting and Sculpture Specialist)
Swedish Paintings, Russian Art, Sculpture, Prints, Modern and Contemporary Art, Ceramics, Antiques, Design, Fashion
- Ivan Aguéli, Gotlandsk landskap, 1892, $676,590 – June 2015
- Carl Kylberg, Prés de la Mer, undated, $517,720 – October 2015
- Isaac Grünewald, Sommarutsikt från Saltsjöbaden, 1942, $136,252 – April 2016
Stockholms Auktionsverk, founded in 1674 in Stockholm, Sweden, bears the proud title of the world’s oldest auction house. Today Stockholms Auktionsverk is one among the leading Nordic auction houses for art, crafts and antiques from all varieties. Their staff comprises around thirty highly educated experts in a range of specialist areas, different cultures and historical periods in art, applied art and antiques.
Cyril Koller (CEO), Pierre Koller (Founder), Silke Stahlschmidt (Postwar and Contemporary Specialist), Christian Stutz (Swiss Art Specialist), Franz-Carl Diegelmann (Old Master Prints and Drawings Specialist)
Old Masters, Impressionist and Modern Art, Post-war and Contemporary Art, Swiss art, Asian Art, Photography, Books and Autographs, Design, Decorative Arts, Antiques, Jewelry, Watches, Fashion and Luxury Goods, Wine
- Albert Anker, Das Winzerfest, 1865, $4,175,062 – December 2015
- Albert Anker, Girl with a Basket in the Woods (Erdbeerimareili), 1872, $1,636,207 – December 2015
- Osias Beert, Stilleben mit Blüten in einem Flechtkorb und Blümenstrauss in einer Porzellanvase auf einer Tischplatte mit Insekten, undated, $486,218 – March 2016
Koller auction house was founded in 1958 by Pierre Koller in Zurich as a gallery that sells equestrian engravings and antique furniture. Throughout time, with the addition of Asian Art and porcelain, clocks, furniture and modern art, including Swiss and international artists such as Ferdinand Hodler and Eugène Boudin, Koller auction house grew into ones of Switzerland’s leading auction houses with locations worldwide including New York, China, France, Germany and Russia. Koller‘s specialty is mainly modern, Swiss, 19th century, and impressionist art. The auction house also offers a number of other specialty departments, including books, silver, jewelry, carpets, wine, and design. Now run by Pierre Koller’s son Cyril Koller, the auction house is especially renowned for unveiling the value of unknown or underappreciated works. In 2008, Koller identified a previously unknown Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder artwork, which sold for £3.61 million. Previously, in 1999, Koller identified a Joachim Wtewael oil on copper work, and sold it for £2 million.
Image: Albert Anker (1831-1910) Das Winzerfest. 1865. Oil on Canvas. 108 x 182 cm. Sold for: $4,175,062 at Koller. Photo courtesy of Koller
Auction houses are listed according to alphabetical order of the country they are based in.
Mearto – www.mearto.com
Get a free online appraisal for antiques, art, collectibles, watches and collections – connect with leading auction houses and find the best place to sell your art and antiques.
Blouin Art Info, 250 Best Auction Houses Worldwide – www.blouinartinfo.com