Clearance Auction of Jailed Art Advisor Helge Achenbach Nets $7.4 Million

Blue-chip art sold at bargain prices.

Photo: DPA via Wiener Zeitung
Gerhard Richter Untitled (2008) Photo: Van Ham

Gerhard Richter Untitled (2008)
Photo: Van Ham

On Saturday the inventory of the imprisoned German art advisor Helge Achenbach was sold at auction. About 2,300 artworks changed hands at the Van Ham auction house in Düsseldorf netting €6.5 million ($7.4 million), or €9 million ($10.1 million) with premiums.

On the last day of the four-day clearance sale the 120 most valuable works hit the auction block. The top lots were three small oil paintings by Gerhard Richter. A 2008 oil painting by the German artist sold for €316,000 ($355,000), while two others sold for €230,000 ($258,000) and €190,000 ($213,670); well over the €60,000 ($67,400) pre-sale estimate.

Jörg Immendorff Komm Jörch Wir Gehen Photo: Van Ham

Jörg Immendorff Komm Jörch Wir Gehen
Photo: Van Ham

Elsewhere Monopol reported that Jörg Immendorff’s bronze sculpture of Joseph Beuys, Komm Jörch Wir Gehen changed owners for €289,000 ($325,000).

Fears that a hoard of 60 of Immendorff’s bronze monkey sculptures would slash the artist’s market price proved unfounded as collectors hungrily competed over the works.

Pieces by Imi Knoebel, A.R. Penck, Thomas Ruff and Markus Lüpertz were also snapped up by bidders.

Imi Knoebel Sandelholz (Three Parts (1997) Photo: Van Ham

Imi Knoebel Sandelholz (Three Parts) (1997)
Photo: Van Ham

There was also a surprising new auction record set for Joyce Pensato, whose painting was bought for €50,000 ($56,230).

On the other side of the price scale at the Düsseldorf auction, several works by little known or emerging artists were hammered down at around the €100 ($112.46) mark. One collector even bought a paper collage for €10 ($11.25).

Georg Baselitz Untitled (2007) Photo: Van Ham

Georg Baselitz Untitled (2007)
Photo: Van Ham

Although the macabre auction house cliché that death and divorce always provide works for the market was not applicable in this case, the sale did put the final nail in the coffin of the life’s work of one of Germany’s most renowned art experts.

The 63-year-old Achenbach has been in detention for almost a year. In March he was sentenced to six years behind bars for defrauding some of his wealthiest clients. The court also ruled that he must pay €19 million ($21.3 million) in damages to the family of the late Aldi supermarket heir Berthold Albrecht.

Thomas Struth Avenida Tiradentes, Sao Paolo (2001) Photo: Van Ham

Thomas Struth Avenida Tiradentes, Sao Paolo (2001)
Photo: Van Ham


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