Munich fairs battle it out

Fine Art and Antiques fair and Munich Highlights compete for attention

Munich. The battle for pole position in the Munich art scene played out between the Munich Highlights fair (15-18 October), set up in 2004 by Colnaghi director Konrad Bernheimer, and the 54th Kunst Messe München—Fine Art and Antiques fair (17-25 October) at the Postpalace.

The Fine Art and Antiques fair was organised by four major dealers—Walter Senger, Albrecht Neuhaus, Ulf D. Härtl and Christian E. Franke—who had been allowed to take over the title of the eldest German art fair, “Kunst Messe München”, in a decree by the German art dealers’ association in May.

There were 34 exhibitors at the event, and in the first three days works totalling several million euros changed hands. As the curtain was raised, Pocking-based Peter Mühlbauer sold a 1590 table for €285,000 to a German buyer, followed by reliefs and table candelabra that sold for six-figure sums to international collectors. Würzburg-based Albrecht Neuhaus sold a 1754 bureau plat by François Reizell, priced at €50,000, and other items to his Munich clientele. Gérard Schneider from Galerie Française also made six-figure sales with works by Picasso and Chagall. Ralf Schepers, director of Münster-based Dr K. & R. Schepers, said that the vernissage was the best he had attended in Munich in the past five years.

Meanwhile, Munich Highlights was held for the last time in its current guise. It will move to a 2,400 sq. m space at the Haus der Kunst from 23-31 October 2010 and be rebranded as Highlights—the New International Munich Art Fair. “It will be a small, high-class fair,” said Bernheimer. Among the 35 participants in the 2009 edition, held across galleries in the city, were 16 regular Maastricht exhibitors, with high quality pieces on offer. With around 800 local visitors and a small number of international visitors, attendance at the opening evening at the Bernheimer Gallery was similar to last year. Among the highlights was a large Carrara marble basin priced at €950,000, on reserve to a US museum with Hamburg-based Frank Möller, who had been able to attribute the piece to Karl Friedrich Schinkel after two years’ research. Starnberg-based Julius Böhler negotiated the sale of a 1320 international-style stone Madonna, to a private collector in Germany for a six-figure sum. Thomas Le Claire of Hamburg sold three of a series of ten rare oil sketches by Johan Christian Dahl, each for a five-figure sum.

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