Enrico Castellani (born 1930), "Superficie", 1960, 100 x 120 cm. Price realized: €965,000.

VIENNA.- For Dorotheum, the largest auction house in German-speaking Europe, the year 2015 proved to be a particularly successful one. The results brought in by two of its contemporary art auctions far exceeded expectations and set new records in Dorotheum history. The auctions were also distinguished by the high sales rate and international character of their selection. A run of top results further underlines the current strong presence and leading role of Dorotheum auction house. 

Avant-garde from Italy and Germany: World Records and Top Sales 
Works originating in nineteen-sixties Germany and Italy proved to be particularly popular. “Superficie” (Surface) by Enrico Castellani, for example, far exceeded expectations: €965,000 mark a new international record for a work from this Italian artist’s early period. Other artists of the Milan avant-garde of the nineteen-sixties also brought in excellent results, including Agostino Bonalumi (€442,200), Giuseppe Uncini (€253,100), Gino De Dominicis (€222,600), or Dadamaino (€204,300). Paolo Scheggi’s “Intersuperficie curva rossa” reached excellent €393.400, while the €204,300 paid for Mauro Staccioli’s steel sculpture “Ellisse” mark a new world record achieved at Dorotheum. 


Mauro Staccioli (born in Volterra in 1937), "Ellisse", 2008, Corten steel, 195 cm x 252 cm x 48 cm, winning bid €204,300.

2015 saw a particularly strong selection of sculptural works by Fontana, including several early sculptures, including “Bust of a Woman” (1949), which sold for an excellent €588,533. Among the ceramic pieces, a round gold “Concetto spaziale” stood out (€283,600). A smaller format “Concetto spaziale” of 1963–1964 saw bidding rise to €405,600. Fausto Melotti’s sculpture “Linee” went for more than double the expected price, selling for €369.000. 


Lucio Fontana (Rosario di Santa Fe, Argentina 1899 -1968 Comabbio),  "Busto di Donna", 1949. Price realised €588,533.


Lucio Fontana (Rosario di Santa Fe, Argentina 1899 -1968 Comabbio), "Concetto Spaziale, Attesa", 1963 - 1964. Price realised 405,600.

Two small-format works by Gerhard Richter made a big splash: “Green-Blue-Red” sold for €369,000, the 2010 pictorial plate “Ifrit” for €143,300. Richter’s “Abstract” saw bidding rise to €491,000 while “Landscape with pioneer camp 1973,” an allusive work by Ilya Kabakov, found a new owner for the same price. Heinz Mack’s polychrome Plexiglas relief went to a German buyer for €295,800. An untitled box with nails and cut-outs by the ZERO-artist Günther Uecker likewise found a new owner for €295,800. 


Ilya Kabakov (Dnjepropetrovsk/Ukraine, born 1933), "Landscape with pionier camp 1973", 2002, oil on canvas, 160 x 250 cm, winning bid €491,000.

In the graphic art category, Dorotheum achieved another top position with a work by Cy Twombly, sold for €198,200. 

Austrian art saw some works gain significant appreciation: Max Weiler’s „World of Growth” set a new world record at €393,400. Maria Lassnig’s “Self portrait as a car” and “Two figures” were knocked down for €344,600 and €341,202, respectively. Dorotheum currently still holds the world record for a work by this artist with the €491,000 paid for one of her painting last year. 


Max Weiler (Hall, Tyrol 1910 – Vienna 2001) “World of Growth,” 1987, egg tempera on canvas, in 4 parts, total dimensions 360 cm x 360 cm, winning bid €393,400.

Pedal to the Metal 
Vintage cars and automobilia were in a class of their own this year: The category featured its most successful auction to date, a sales rate of 95%, and the highest winning bid of the year with the €1,012,000 paid for a Shelby Cobra Mk I. made in 1963, an icon of automobile history. For a Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Coupé made in 1960 the auction bell did not ring before bidding reached €572,000, while a bright blue Lancia Stratos HF of 1974 likewise raised a few eyebrows with an excellent final price of €379,500.


1963 Shelby Cobra 289 Mk. I CSX2104, first Cobra in “Guardsman Blue,” winning bid  €1,012,000.

Timeless Images 
Frans Pourbus II.’s “Portrait of Prince Philipp Wilhelm of Orange, wearing the breastplate of the Order of the Golden Fleece” sold for €575,516 – more than ten times the expected price – at the April auction of old master paintings. Pieter Brueghel II.’s tondo entitled “A Couple Fishing” saw bidding rise to €552,000, Jan Brueghel’s “Rest by the Windmill” to €523,446. “Our Lady of the Carnations” by Giovan Battista Salvi, known as Il Sassoferrato, was also able to more than double its estimated price (€417,800). 


Frans Pourbus II. (1569 – 1622), "Portrait of Prince Philipp Wilhelm of Orange, wearing the breastplate of the Order of the Golden Fleece", oil on canvas, 102 cm x 83 cm, winning bid €575.516


Pieter Brueghel II (Brussels 1564-1637 / 38 Antwerpen), "The couple fishing". Oil on panel, Dm 19.1 cm. Realized price EUR 552.000.


Jan Brueghel I (Brussels 1568-1625 Antwerp), "The Rest on the windmill", oil on panel, 36.2 x 48.9 cm. Realized price EUR 523 446.


Giovan Battista Salvi, said Sassoferrato (Sassoferrato 1609-1685 Rome), "Madonna of carnation", oil on canvas, 109.5 x 82 cm Realized price € 417,800.

Pride of place at in the “19th century paintings” category went to the Polish historical and portrait painter Jan Matejko and his 1872 portrait of Carol Gilewski, professor of anatomy at Cracow – with a final bid of €344,600, more than three times the estimated price. €149,400 signify an important international record for a painting by Gabriel Ritter von Max, “The Scholars,” portrayed in the guise of two monkeys. Friedrich Gauermann’s dramatic “Robbery” of a stage coach sold for €173,800, while Ivan Konstantinowich Aivazovsky’s marine piece was sold for more than twice the estimate, at €106,250. 


Gabriel Ritter von Max (Prague 1840-1918 Monaco of Bavaria), "The Scholars", oil on panel, 60.5 x 45 cm. Price realized € 344,600. World record.

Modern art saw the successful sale of Alfons Walde’s painting “Alpine meadows in the snow” for €393,400 and Fernando Botero’s oil painting “A Thief” for €283,600. The “Bather” by Frantisek Kupka reached an excellent €295,800. Among a selection of works by Futurist artists, Gino Severini’s “Sortie Nord – Sud” found particular favour with art lovers. A collector paid €369,000 for his highly dynamic painting. “Bateau Ivre” by Wols saw bidding rise to €131,100. 


Alfons Walde (Oberndorf 1891–Kitzbühel 1958), "Alpine Pastures in the Snow", circa 1935, oil tempera on cardboard, 57 cm x 46 cm, winning bid €393,400.

Rare Jewels and Watches 
Jewellery and watch auctions brought in a particularly strong performance this year and the June auction turned out to be the most successful of its kind in Dorotheum history. Top results distinguished a rare Kashmir sapphire ring (€515,400) a ring set with an untreated 14.57 ct. Burma sapphire (€222,600) and a “Fancy Yellow Natural Colour” solitaire brilliant ring (16.98 ct), which found a new owner for €320,200. 


A ring with untreated Burmese sapphire 14.57 ct, realized price EUR 222,600.


Fancy Yellow Natural Color Diamond solitaire ring 16,98 ct, realized price EUR 320 200.

In the watch category, contenders for the top position included two Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watches “Paul Newman” dating to the 1970s (€87,500, €81,250).


Rolex Cosmograph Daytona "Paul Newman", realized price EUR EUR 87.500.

Record Prices 
A silver cutlery set designed in 1922/25 by Hoffmann and Julius Zimpel was sold for more than triple the estimate at the art nouveau auction in May: the 168-part set was worth €344,600 to its proud new owner. A “Cupboard on Table” mod. no. BL 0810, designed by Otto Prutscher, likewise found a new owner for €244,414 – more than six times the estimated price – at the May design auction.  


Josef Hoffmann (decor) / Julius Zimpel (form), 168-piece cutlery set in cassette, Design to 1922-25, the Wiener Werkstätte, realized price EUR 344 600

The most expensive written document ever sold at Dorotheum is a “Rituals,” an autograph dating to the 11th century. At the June autograph auction bidding for this codex of great scientific and historical liturgical significance climbed to the sensational sum of €356,800.  


Rituals / Pontifical, Sacramentary, Calendar and komputistischer Annex. For the Notre Dame Cathedral in Le Puy-en-Velay, the 11th century. Realized price EUR 290.000.

The stamp category also brought new record prices: The only known “Drittelungsfrankatur” of a 9-kreutzer stamp, Austria 1850, on a folding letter cover, became the single most expensive object sold at a Dorotheum stamp auction with €145,000.

In addition, May of this year saw the successful sale of a single owner collection: at the auction “Bicycles from the Embacher Collection,” bicycle enthusiasts from all over the world competed for vintage bicycle models from the nineteen-twenties to the present. 


Bicycles from the Embacher Collection.

A strong year for our auction house,” stated Dorotheum managing director, Martin Böhm, “as demonstrated by the high sales rates, excellent appreciation, and numerous ‘best-of’ results. Contemporary art continues to be a main focus of our interest.”