This week, Munich-based auction house Ketterer Kunst reported a total of €60 million ($73 million) in sales for the year of 2020. Despite challenges to the market during the pandemic months, the annual figure is just 3 percent below the total result of €62 million ($75.5 million) from 2019. For Ketterer, the figure reveals a strong performance in an industry that has seen an 25 percent drop in overall sales.
The house reported that half of the sales volume was generated in the second half of 2020, with 126 lots reaching the six-figure price point, surpassing the previous record number of lots in that price category of 114. Three lots reached the €1 million mark, including Gerhard Richter’s Christiane und Kerstin and two works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The house set auction records for artists such as Arnulf Rainer, Hermann Nitsch and Emil Schumacher.
“This excellent balance is a strong and important signal in challenging times like these“, said auctioneer Robert Ketterer in a statement.
Speaking of the year-end December sales, he added, “While we saw slightly weaker markets in London and New York just recently, this past weekend showed that the demand for art is stronger than ever. Top quality and provenance, as well as a targeted digital strategy are key factors.“
One of the top consignments that passed through the house this year was the first portion of the corporate collection of Deutsche Bank, headlined by Karl Hofer‘s 1932 painting Arbeitslose, which came first from the artist’s estate and was won by a Berlin-based bidder for a record price of €825,000, against a high estimate of €400,000. “The corona-stricken market yearns for quality and provenances of this kind,” said Ketterer in a statement prior to the collection sale in December.
Elsewhere in the collection sale, Otto Piene‘s Rasterbild sold for €325,000 to a Bavarian collector against an estimate of €150,000, and Ernst Wilhelm Nay‘s Blau bewegt went for € 750,000 to an American bidder, against an estimate of €200,000. In October, Deutsche Bank announced plans to sell around 200 works of art from its 55,000-item collection as part of an initiative to raise €10 million ($11.8 million) in order to focus its holdings on contemporary and emerging art, with sales set to take place across Christie’s Paris and Ketterer. Ketterer did not report the total sales figure for lots sold from the Deutsche Bank collection.
The 20th and 21st century art departments generated sales around €27 million ($33 million), well under last year’s total of €53 million ($64.6 million) made across the 20th and 21st century art department. The 19th century art department brought in €3.7 million ($4.5 million), €1 million ($1.2 million) more than 2019 and the department’s highest total. And the rare books category brought in €4 million ($4.9 million).
Ketterer estimated that online sales generated around €3 million in 2020, up 76 percent from last year’s predicted figure of €1.7 million.