March 9, 2010 / 6:18 AM / 9 years ago

Sotheby's raises record sum at Amsterdam auction

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - An auction at Sotheby’s of more than 160 works of post-war and contemporary art from the Peter Stuyvesant Collection exceeded all expectations on Monday, raising a record 13.6 million euros ($18.6 million).

A general exterior view of Sotheby's auction house on New Bond Street in London February 15, 2007. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

The works on offer in Amsterdam were the property of British American Tobacco The Netherlands and formed the largest collection of such art ever to come to auction in the country.

“We witnessed a truly remarkable depth of bidding from Europe, North and South America and Asia, almost unprecedented in a Sotheby’s Amsterdam auction,” said Deputy Director Bert-Jan Van Egteren.

Sotheby’s had expected to raise between 4.4 million and 6.3 million euros, and the 13.6 million euros raised was the highest amount achieved in the Netherlands for a sale of fine art.

The collection was started by Alexander Orlow, who in 1960 invited 13 artists from 13 European countries to create paintings for the production hall at the Turmac Tobacco Company in the Netherlands as a way of brightening up the workplace.

He specified the works should be large and with vivid colors and shapes to fit his theme of “joie de vivre.” He noted that productivity actually increased after their installation.

The highest price offered on Monday went to Martin Kippenberger’s Dinosaurierei, sold for 1.07 million euros. Completed in 1996, a year before his death at the age of 44, the work is part of the artist’s series of Egg Paintings.

Numerous works by Karel Appel were also on sale, such as Tete Tragique, a 1961 oil on canvas, which sold for almost 493,000 euros.

The Amsterdam sale also included artists who fetched new auction records at a recent sale in London, such as Jan Schoonhoven and Gunther Uecker.

Schoonhoven’s Square with Diagonals sold on Monday for 456,750 euros and Uecker’s Grosser Schnee was auctioned for 336,750 euros, both well above initial estimates.

Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block, editing by Tim Pearce

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