Sotheby’s is set to open a new location in Cologne, with Barbara Guarnieri, a renowned art expert who appears on Lieb & Teuer (Germany’s answer to Antiques Roadshow), appointed as head. It’s a sign of significant endorsement for Germany’s reputation within the commercial art world, which has historically focused on London, Paris, Zurich, Geneva and Milan. Cologne is home to Art Cologne, a major European art fair, so it’s unsurprising that Sotheby’s has chosen the city to host its first sales centre in Germany, in the sumptuous Palais Oppenheim no less. The Rhineland is also rich with state collections, commercial galleries, domestic auction houses such as Lempertz and hordes of private art collectors.
An increase in the number and enthusiasm of German art collectors is a primary pull factor, said Sebastien Fahey, managing director of Sotheby’s EMEA; 30% of German bidders in 2020 were new customers to the auction house. As is the opportunity to make the company’s network more accessible to collectors in neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Sotheby’s is the first major auction house to open a sales centre in Germany, but its major competitors, Christie’s and Phillips are likely to be hot on its tail given the current boom.
Sotheby's new headquarters, Palais Oppenheim. Photo via Facebook.