€250 Million Essl Collection Might be for Sale After All

Karlheinz Essl has enlisted the help of Sotheby’s to place an estimated value on his collection, according to die Presse. The essl collection has a official, book value of €86 million and has previously been estimated by Austrian experts to be worth in the realm of €250 million. According to the paper, selling the collection remains essential to Essl being able to keep his financially troubled hardware store chain, Baumax afloat.

The allegation comes as a surprise, however. Essl had previously offered to sell the collection in its entirety to the Austrian state. But, with public opinion weighing against the purchase, he pulled the offer. Instead, he suggested that Baumax would be saved by the closure of several stores in Turkey and a potential retreat from Eastern Europe altogether. This latest development suggests that a recalculation might have taken place.

If the valuation by Sotheby’s further suggests a sale of the collection looming in the future, the big remaining question is whether Essl would accept his accumulation being pieced off to other private collectors. Previously, he has only been interested in selling the collection whole.

Currently, the Essl collection remains in danger of liquidation if the company’s owners were to become financially insolvent. Essl placed the artworks within a charitable foundation two years ago. However, according to Austrian law, they would only be safe from bankruptcy claims after five years within a foundation.


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