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VAN HAM Kunstauktionen
VAN HAM Company history Carola van Ham Europe's first female auctioneer In 1959 the art historian Carola van Ham founded the auction house "Kunsthaus am Museum" in her hometown Cologne. She had studied at the University of Cologne, worked at the auction house Lempertz, Cologne, and for many years was assistant to the auctioneer Franz A. Menna. In 1958 when Mr. Menna retired Ms. van Ham continued the tradition of his company as Europe's first female auctioneer. This was a very daring project as at this time just the monthly rent amounted up to two years income. Colleagues in the art world, hitherto a male domain, assumed that her company would exist no longer than the first two or three years. However Ms. van Ham's sound knowledge of art history and her enormous commercial dexterity enabled her to turn the "Kunsthaus am Museum" into a successful enterprise becoming one of the most important auction houses in Germany. The art historian Dr. Werner Stopp, whom Ms. van Ham employed in 1960, made an important contribution to the development of the house. A former fellow student of Ms. van Ham, he was active as a restorer after completing his doctorate. His change of profession meant a great leap forward for the young auction house. Dr. Stopp with his very sound knowledge built up the House's department of Old Master and 19th Century Paintings. From the very beginning he put emphasis on 19th Century paintings which were still underestimated in the early 1960's. In 1970 the company was transformed into a general partnership; from then on Dr. Stopp was a business partner. Ms. van Ham moved her private home away from Cologne to the German town of Kassel in the early 1970's after her marriage with the businessman Hansjörg Eisenbeis. However she not only continued the business but also fostered her social engagements in Cologne. She was active as an amateur judge in commercial law for over 25 years and was also a member of the examination committee for apprentices in the art market, a traineeship which she had initiated herself. With the same enthusiasm she devoted herself to the traffic department of Cologne and the economy council of the Christian Democratic Party CDU. Only in 1997 she put down her role as a sworn expert for antiques due to old age. A new generation In 1995 her son Markus Eisenbeis joined the staff of "Kunsthaus am Museum - Carola van Ham" as a member of the management. After a two year apprenticeship at the bank Sal. Oppenheim jr. & Cie., Cologne, he studied Art History, Classical Archaeology and Economics at the University of Bonn and at the University College, London. During his studies he gathered international experience in the auction business working at Christie's, London, and at the Etude Jean-Louis Picard (today Etude PIASA), Paris. In 1996 the house changed into a limited partnership with Mr. Eisenbeis being the exclusive responsible shareholder. This made it possible for Mrs. van Ham - Eisenbeis to retire and also for Dr. Stopp to work significantly less than before. The fact that the change took place so smoothly was not only achieved by Ms. van Ham's sound experience but also by the enthusiasm and engagement of the very dedicated staff; Reinhard Singer, successor to Dr. Stopp, has to be especially mentioned in this respect, as he made a great contribution to the successful expansion of the Old Master Department. In the beginning of 1997 the department of Modern and Contemporary Art was expanded. Dr. Petra Schäpers, previously working for the gallery Karsten Greve, Cologne, was taken on as a new expert in order to build up a department for Modern and Contemporary Art. She was succeeded by Robert van den Valentyn in the summer of 2002. In 2007 the department Jewellery and Watches was founded and VAN HAM asserts its leading position in Germany since then. Also the smaller department Carpets & Tapestries with the expert Rolf Hirschberg grows constantly and achieved 2014 with the auction result of 600,000 euros the best result in this area since 2007. Moving to Cologne’s South In June 1999 the company left its traditional location next to the "Museum für Angewandte Kunst" (Museum for Applied Arts, formerly Wallraf-Richartz Museum) in order to move to more spacious and modern premises in Köln-Bayenthal. Along with the relocation came the change of name relating traditionalism and innovation. The "Kunsthaus am Museum, Carola van Ham" is now called "VAN HAM Fine Art Auctioneers". The layout of the catalogues significantly changed and an extensive internet presence was established. www.van-ham.com, a vital source of information, gives important details on how to buy and sell at VAN HAM´s and shows all our recent richly illustrated catalogues. By the time a network of representatives was established that still exists today. The representative for Northern Germany located in Hamburg is Dr. Katrin Stangenberg. In cooperation with Maier & Co. Fine Art in Stuttgart, the representative Dr. Anja Gebauer is responsible for the clients in Baden-Württemberg while Dr. Barbara Haubold is located nearby Munich and therefore the contact for Bavaria. The representative for Luxemburg is Countess Marina von Kamarowsky and responsible for the Netherlands and Belgium is Dr. Petra Versteegh-Kühner. New location since 2014 In summer 2014 after 15 years at Schönhauser Straße 10-16 the next relocation took place. VAN HAM’s new premises were both the necessary and logical result of the auction house’s successful growth in recent years. For Markus Eisenbeis the design unites a clear form and simple elegance in an independent architectural object, while also competently engaging its local setting. He said, “This discreet architectural space offers artworks elegant surroundings at museum standards.” The new building was designed by Cologne architects Klaus Müller (Müller Architecture). Located on a 5,000 square-meter plot at Hitzelerstrasse 2 in Cologne-Raderthal, the resulting building is an exemplary work with state-of-the-art technical standards. The centerpiece of the building is the sweeping, 300-square meter saleroom with seven-meter ceilings, all of which is encompassed by a circular gallery space. Construction was overseen and carried out by the contracting firm Bommhardt Brothers. The new building expresses precisely VAN HAM’s concept for the future. The design blends modern tradition with a unique and contemporary space. Likewise, VAN HAM remains indebted to its history and will continue to be “generalists.” The traditional specialist departments such as the old masters, nineteenth century painting, and applied arts will be accentuated at the new location. Independently, VAN HAM will also intensify the focus on modern and contemporary art without dismissing their commitment to traditions. For the past five years, contemporary art has produced the strongest results and the most intense emphasis will be on this category in the future. Together with the opening of the new auction house, VAN HAM established also a new department. In cooperation with Kunsthandel Klefisch the repertoire expanded to include Asian Art. Trudel Klefisch is an experienced expert in Asian Art and is both known and successful among international collectors and markets. In addition to Klefisch, expert Walter Bruno Brix, also from Kunsthandel Klefisch, and Ms. Hua Yan, a native Chinese speaker, will strengthen VAN HAM’s team. Record-breaking auctions The first auctions in VAN HAM’s new building 2014 showed that the new premises qualify perfectly for presenting and selling works of art of all possible areas. The new record sales figure of 30 million euros, as well as the record-breaking auctions in Modern and Contemporary Art and in Fine Art affirmed the decision of moving to the new building. The continuously increasing number of customers was particularly strengthened by the cooperation with the art trade Klefisch so that the Asian market could be further developed. In January 2015 VAN HAM received the contract for the sale of the majority of works from the bankruptcy estate of Achenbach Kunstberatung GmbH. The Achenbach Art Auction was a sale of superlatives: With more than 2,300 artworks it was the largest auction of contemporary art ever held in Germany. An exhibition area of more than 1,800 square meters and an auction room of 800 square meters were also exceptional. In parts there were more than 300 bidders in the room, in total there were more than 2,500 bidders registered for this sale, two thirds of them being new clients. More than 6,000 bids were accepted prior to the auction, numerous bids followed on the floor and via online-bidding. The spectacle was accompanied by an incredible media interest. After a four day auction marathon VAN HAM is able to record a total turnover of 9 million Euros and the most successful auction in the Cologne auction house’s history. With its nine spring auctions in 2015 VAN HAM realized a total result of approximately 21 million euros which represents an increase 60% in comparison to the previous year. At the same time it is the best spring result in the auction house’s history. “We particularly owe this new record-breaking result to the Achenbach Art Auction, which exceeded all expectations by far. With a total result of approximately 9 million euros this auction constitutes the most successful one in our auction house’s history“, explains Markus Eisenbeis. Thus VAN HAM’s outstanding position amongst the leading German auction houses, particularly in contemporary art, was once again confirmed. Special activities The change of generation meant a change of the traditional family business into a modern auction house. On account of the wide ranging program of the Old Master and Modern departments it has gained a high reputation in the art world. In addition to marketing art, VAN HAM is also committed to art historical research. By establishing VAN HAM Art Publications the auction house has made important contributions to the integration of research and the art market, and as result, strengthening a trusting relationship between buyers and sellers. In April 2008, VAN HAM Art Publications published the catalogue raisonné of paintings by Expressionist Karl Hofer (1878-1955). Karl Bernhard Wohlert compiled the three volumes containing a total of 2,900 paintings. Hofer's oeuvre spans a creative period of around 57 years, between 1898 and 1955-the most fascinating period during which artistic production transition from Art Nouveau to modernism. VAN HAM also maintains a portion of the Hofer Estate. In 2015 the catalogue raisonné for Karl Hofer’s sketchbooks followed after supervision by Prof. Dr. Dr. Gerd Presler. Other publications are the catalogues raisonnés of Franz Roubaud and documentations about Fritz Klimsch, Karl Fred Dahmen and many more. Since 2013 VAN HAM also took the next step and established VAN HAM Art Estate. Having a competent partner is indispensable to the management and marketing of artists’ estates. VAN HAM offers a comprehensive service that draws on our years of experience in the art market and our commitment to traditional, scholarly engagement with art. The proper management of an artist’s estate, even posthumously, depends on the artist’s public presence, as well as her/his reputation and relative importance on the art market. The key skills of VAN HAM Art Estate stem from its decades of experience as an auction house: visual analysis, evaluations, reconditioning, applying, and marketing. VAN HAM Art Estate manages the estates and partial estates of the artists Karl Fred Dahmen, Karl Hofer, Tata Ronkholz, and Ernst Seger.
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