artnet Asks: Magnus Bexhed of Uppsala Auktionskammare

One of the world's oldest auction houses is gearing up for a series of major sales.

Head Specialist Knut Knutson (left) with CEO Magnus Bexhed (right) at Uppsala Auktionskammare with Pablo Picasso's Fillette au béret (1964).

The auction market continues to be as exciting as ever. With record-breaking sales last month, dealers appear bolstered and eager to continue chasing new opportunities and expanding their collections. One stalwart in the scene is the legendary Uppsala Auktionskammare, founded all the way back in 1731. As one of the oldest auction houses in the world, they have overseen all the major changes in the market, and remain steadfast in their ability to attract some of the world’s finest artworks.

Here, we spoke with CEO Magnus Bexhed to discuss the upcoming series of major sales, their acquisition of the Neuman Collection, and what to expect from Uppsala Auktionskammare next week.

Your upcoming December 6–9 sales cover a wide breadth of different markets. What will the upcoming auction include in terms of focus and genre?
The upcoming auction week is featuring four different catalogues: The Neuman Collection, the Classic Sale, the Modern Sale, and the Asian Sale. They all include a variety of high-quality works such as paintings, sculpture, furniture, and applied art from different periods. This time, we have a great number of fine Modern and contemporary works from both Swedish and International artists, a department we are seeking to expand.

Can you tell us a little bit about the Neuman Collection, and the works on offer?
The Neuman Collection is a private Swedish collection, including 11 important works by Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, Marc Chagall, and André Masson. The Swedish collector and art lover Bertil Neuman started his own consultant company after having joined the first Swedish business delegation to visit America after the Second World War. Most of the works in the Neuman Collection have provenance from Galerie Louise Leiris in Paris, and were later acquired by Bertil Neuman during the 1970s and 1980’. The highlight of the collection is the oil painting Fillette au béret, depicting a little girl with a blue béret, which Picasso painted in 1964. Among others, the collection also includes La Thora (1970), an impressive gouache by Marc Chagall, and Composition (1938) by Fernand Léger.

Pablo Picasso, Nus (1972). Courtesy of Uppsala Auktionskammare.

Pablo Picasso, Nus (1972). Courtesy of Uppsala Auktionskammare.

What is your favorite artwork in The Neuman Collection?
My personal favorite is Nus (1972) by Pablo Picasso. Nus was created by Picasso only one year before he passed away, and depicts an erotic but still intimate and loving scene. The composition and simple yet brilliant lines are just wonderful.

Uppsala Auktionskammare has been in business since 1731, making you one of the oldest auctions houses in the world. What changes have you seen in the auction world in the past decade?
The market has become much more global, and nowadays it does not matter if the auctions are in London, New York, or Uppsala—buyers can easily find high-quality objects through the internet. Vendors of international art in Scandinavia do not have to consign with the big auction houses in London and New York, as was previously more common.

New markets have developed during the last decade, such as the Russian market and later on the Chinese. In both these fields, Sweden has numerous interesting old collections of paintings and works of art, and Uppsala Auktionskammare has been and still is a prominent market place for these.

Marc Chagall, Thora. Courtesy of Uppsala Auktionskammare.

Marc Chagall, Thora. Courtesy of Uppsala Auktionskammare.

How has the internet developed or impacted your business?
The globalization and digitalization have played a huge role in the auction world and works of art are now accessible to everyone, which was not the case only a decade ago. All of our auctions are sale room auctions, but the digital development has made it possible for everyone to follow and participate in the auction from anywhere in world. 

What is a key piece of advice you would give to a new collector?
Always buy with your heart first!

Uppsala Auktionskammare’s next auction, the Classic Sale, takes place on Tuesday, December 6.

artnet Auction House Partnerships offer an ideal way for auction houses to gain international exposure for their sales and lots. Learn more about becoming a partner here, or explore all upcoming sales here.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.