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Villa Grisebach

Fasanenstrasse 25


Germany   10719

Telephone : 0049 30 885 91 50

Fax : 0049 30 882 41 45

Website :

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  • Foundation and Founders
    In early 1986, five Berlin art dealers joined forces in order to establish an auction house of a new kind.

    Bernd Schultz - son of a businessman from Bremen, was the inspirational as well as the driving force behind this project. Already during his time as a bank apprentice, the art-missionary fire of Hans Pels-Leusden had caught him wholeheartedly. Two years later he entered the gallery Pels-Leusden as a student trainee, and became partner in 1975. Despite all the restrictions due to the geopolitical location of Berlin, Bernd Schultz strongly believed in a grand renaissance of the art-city. “The idea of freedom is always stronger than the idea of oppression” (Schultz). Berlin seemed to be the right place to create an international stage for German art.

    Hans Pels-Leusden (1908 – 1993), art dealer and painter, collector and benefactor of the Berlin Kollwitz Museum, had strong personal connections with various German Modern artists. His credo was: “An art-lover must have a burning compassion for art.”

    Wilfried Utermann represents the fourth generation of his family to direct the Uterman Gallery, which was founded in 1853 in Dortmund and constitutes the oldest German gallery still in family ownership. Since 1970, it has been focused on Expressionism and Modern art, especially on Lyonel Feininger, Christian Rohlfs, and artists of the Brücke Movement.

    Raimund Thomas’ gallery, founded in 1964, has become one of the leading dealerships for Classic Modern art. In the traditionally conservative Munich, he has managed to follow in the footsteps of great Munich art dealers such as Goltz, Thannhauser, Franke, and Stangl.

    Michael Neumann in Düsseldorf, a passionate friend of Modern art, was familiar with the art business in many ways. From early on he was interested in photography, and his excitement about Contemporary art was simply contagious.

    Today, Bernd Schultz and Wilfried Uterman are still actively involved with Villa Grisebach Auctions. Hans Pels-Leusden died in 1993, and Raimund Thomas and Michael Neumann resigned. A new addition is art historian Micaela Kapitzky, who had started her career with a research project on Emil Nolde. She is associated with Villa Grisebach since 1987, and became executive partner next to Bernd Schultz in the year 2000.

    A New Style
    The founding of Villa Grisebach Auctions in 1986 constituted some risks. Since 1961, the infamous Wall divided the city of Berlin in two and an affluent social class was still quite small. Until then, the art business mainly took place in Cologne, Munich, and on an international platform. Nevertheless, Bernd Schultz remained true to his vision of an internationally respected auction house with high standards – especially since he was aware of Berlin’s history as one of the world’s most important art capitals. What guided him was his knowledge of Berlin in the 1920s – the golden age for Jewish art dealers and collectors – which came to a sudden end in 1933. It would take great expertise, dedication, and courage to be successful in creating the auction house he envisioned. From the start, Villa Grisebach focused on art from the beginning of the 19th century up to contemporary artworks. No efforts were spared in order to put together an extraordinary team of specialists.

    Villa Grisebach also chose an unusual path by offering better conditions and higher warranties than the competition. For example, Villa Grisebach offers a one-year-guaranty on the characteristics specified in the catalogues – as far as the provided information concurs with current art-historical research. On August 28, 1986 the “Handelsblatt” called it a “revolutionary” approach, and welcomed the newcomer’s priorities as “transparent, fair, and market-realistic”.

    Economical Success
    Collectors immediately embraced this new concept and reacted positively to Villa Grisebach’s focus on a limited but perfectly mastered field of art. The first preview in 1986 attracted no less than 2,500 art lovers. Turnover of this first auction was DM 4 million. One year into its existence Villa Grisebach was already in the black. But most importantly: it had gained the trust of buyers and consigners. “Grisebach” quickly became a synonym for spectacular results and interesting discoveries. In 1988 Lyonel Feininger’s “Raddampfer II” (1928) set the first world record with DM 2.4 million. In 1989, “Fabeltier”, a gouache by Franz Marc estimated at DM 450,000, sold for DM 2.99 million. Adolph von Menzel’s Berlin painting “Der Schafgraben “ (1846) constituted a world record for the German artist in 2003 by fetching EUR 1,209,000. At EUR 3.9 million Max Beckmann’s enigmatic portrait “Anni” bestowed Villa Grisebach with the highest price ever paid for a painting at auction in Germany. During its anniversary year in 2006, Villa Grisebach handled 6 of the 10 most expensive works of art on the German auction market. Having already climbed up to EUR 26.2 million in 2004, in 2006, the turnover reached a new high at EUR 45 million.

    Villa Grisebach has been the top-selling auction house for Modern Art in Germany since 1988, and has, ever since, remained the unchallenged market leader in German 20th century art. All of this would have been impossible without the great dedication of a highly professional team in each and every department.

    Worldwide Impact
    Not only does Villa Grisebach reach record results, it also plays an important role in generating interest for German art around the world. Especially the worldwide appreciation for German Impressionism and Expressionism as well as Realism and Neue Sachlichkeit has risen substantially with the help of Villa Grisebach, a true authority in the field of Modern German art. Museums, private collectors, and academic institutes make use of the Berlin based auction house’s competence on a regular basis.

    Enhancing the Art-historical Spectrum
    Because the history of art of the 19th and 20th century has to be perceived in relation with the medium of photography, Villa Grisebach started its own photography auction in 1998. On November 22, 2003 the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” wrote: “The best selection of photography in this years fall auctions can be found at Villa Grisebach. And one wants to add: again! Browsing the catalogue is pure pleasure.” Since 2006, special photography exhibitions have been staged and these shows have received international critical acclaim.

    For the past few years, Villa Grisebach has also intensified its undertakings in the field of Contemporary Art. As is typical for Villa Grisebach, this happened not only due to a market strategy. One of the main reasons for this was the notion that worldwide-interest in Contemporary German art could lead to the formation of a new “Classic Modern Art” from Germany.

    Grisebach Network
    The long-lasting success of Villa Grisebach is based on its strong ties with collectors in Germany and the rest of the world. Villa Grisebach’s database is filled with over 22,000 names of clients from Europe to the U.S,, and from Japan to Australia. Offices for the auction house exist in Munich, Zurich, and New York, and representatives are located in Hamburg, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, and Stuttgart available for a discrete consultation and for appraisals of works of art.

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