Sotheby's to sell German art worth up to $78 million

Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:38pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Sotheby's will offer a collection of German art from the 1960s and 1970s at a series of sales in London in June and expects the 59 works on offer to fetch 33-48 million pounds ($54-78 million).

The collection, belonging to German industrialist Christian Duerckheim, includes what the auctioneer called "masterful" works by artists including Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke.

The works have not appeared on the market for more than 30 years.

Among the highlights at the contemporary art auction series on June 29-30 is Polke's "Dschungel" of 1967, a dot painting valued at 3-4 million pounds.

Also for sale will be Baselitz's oil painting "Die Grosse Nacht im Eimer" (The Big Night Down the Drain) which Sotheby's called "the most important German work of art of the post war period to come to the market."

The artist is on record as saying it was "my first painting, my first attempt at painting," and the work is estimated to be worth 2-3 million pounds.

The sale also includes the second work recorded in Richter's "catalog raisonne," Eislauferin, which was previously believed to be destroyed. It is expected to raise 2-3 million pounds.

Duerckheim told the New York Times that he wanted to sell the collection because he believed it was a finished project.

"I can't go on," he told the newspaper. "It's time to concentrate on something new."

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)