Deutsche Bank Will Sell Off 200 Modern Works From Its Corporate Collection to Pivot Its Focus to Contemporary Art

The bank, which says it wants to buy more "up-and-coming talents," bought several works at Frieze London.

Egon Schiele's Liegendes Madchen mit roter Bluse will be included in the first sale. Courtesy Christie's Paris.

Deutsche Bank has announced plans to sell around 200 historical works of art from its collection as part of an effort to refocus on contemporary and emerging art.

The divestment will take place over several auctions spanning the next three years at Christie’s in London and Paris, and at Munich’s Ketterer Kunst. The first sale is on October 22 at Christie’s Paris. The bank says it expects the sales to gross profits in the “low double-digit million range,” which it intends to use to acquire more contemporary art.

Friedhelm Hütte, the head of the bank’s art and culture department, says the aim is to focus “up-and-coming artistic talents.” Hütte says the move is also part of an effort to support artists and galleries, “which is particularly important at the moment.” The year, marked by lockdowns and canceled art fairs, has left emerging artists and dealers in a particularly precarious position.

Buyers for the bank’s collection were shopping at Frieze London yesterday and bought works by Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga, American artist Erin O’Keefe, Portuguese artist Gabriela Albergaria, and Iranian artist Nima Nabavi, all of whom were born in the 1960s and ’70s.

Objects to be sold in the upcoming sales include works that do not directly fit the new profile of the collection, which made its first turn to contemporary art in 1997. To continue this focus, the collection will sell paintings and sculptures from between 1945 to the 1970s and drawings and prints from the early 20th century.

Many of the works headed for sale were acquired before the collection began to focus on works on paper and photography.

Robert Ketterer, owner of Ketterer Kunst auction house in Munich, which will sell the post-war modernist pieces in December, says the announcement is “good news for a hungry art market.” He tells Artnet News that he is “convinced the bank couldn’t have chosen a better time for the sale.” Unlike other auction houses, the German auctioneer posted a 5 percent growth this year, and raked in $29.5 million in four in-person sales over the summer.

The Deutsche Bank collection numbers more than 55,000 works of art. In 2018, it opened the Palais Populaire in Berlin, an exhibition hall in a former palace on Unter den Linden.

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