With a total turnover of over €16 million ($18.9 million) across 31 auctions and 6,000 lots, Cologne-based auction house Van Ham Kunstauktionen ended a successful spring season with reformatted Classic Week and Modern Week sales. The 2020 total aligns with Van Ham’s H1 earnings of €16.3 million ($19.4 million) generated in 2018.
The live auctions led the bulk of sales. With a semi-annual turnover of €10 million ($11.9 million) the Modern Week auction series was led by four editions from postwar German painter Fritz Winter’s Driving Forces of the Earth series, which together realized €678,000 ($805,006). Two works by American hyperrealist artist Tom Blackwell, exceeded their estimate achieving a combined result of €84,000 ($99,735). The sale saw new records for photo-realists Anthony Brunelli, with a new benchmark of €134,000 (159,101) and Roberto Bernardi at €38,500 ($45,712).
In contemporary art, Insomnia, a painting by Belgian artist Luc Tuymans, realized €148,000 ($175,724), marking a record for the artist in a German auction. In the modern sale, a 1935 work by German painter Georg Schrimpf titled Girl at the Window made €251,000 ($298,018) after being held privately for 70 years. Competitive bidding moved the price far past its low estimate of €50,000, hammering at €195,000 to a German buyer. Van Ham offered significant holdings from the corporate collection of SØR Rusche, a German clothing retailer to auction this series, among which were 150 modern and contemporary works.
Elsewhere in the May Classic week series, a painting by 16th century Flemish Renaissance master Gortzius Geldorp titled Saint Anna Selbdritt was acquired for the permanent collection of Cologne museum, Wallraf Richartz for €19,500 ($23,152). The work more than doubled its high estimate of €8,000. James Webb’s monumental 19th century View of Cologne, realized €160,000 ($189,972) against an estimate of €100,000–150,000. Adriaen van Utrecht’s The Pantry with provenance from the Saxon Royal house sold for €77,500 ($92,017) landing within its estimate range of €60,000-80,000 going to a Berlin collection. Abraham Jansz Storck’s Tsar Peter the Great made €68,500 ($81,331) and Jakob Duck’s King Balthazar, also from the Rusche consignment achieved €62,500 ($74,207).
Saint Catherine of Alexandria a 17th century Italian Old Master painting with only one provenance record from a German collection sold for €25,800 ($30,632) meeting its low estimate. An anticipated lot by Sicilian Old Master Pietro Novelli depicting Saint John with the lamb of God failed to sell at an estimate of €60,000-80,000. Together, the Classic Week auctions achieved €1.3 million ($1.54 million), meeting the pre-sale expectation of €1.2 to 1.6 million.
Extending its digital strategy initiated in 2017, the firm reported promising results for its online sales in the first half of 2020. The German house saw 21 online auctions generate total sales of €1.6 million ($1.9 million), surpassing the 2019 mid-year online and seeing an increase of 100 percent from the equivalent period.
Overall, the house reported an average of six bids per lot in its online sales alongside a total of 8,500 online bids for 1,400 lots sold since the beginning of the year. The digital format elicited 25% new clients.