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Art collection of bankrupt German art consultancy to go under hammer

Sale of more than 2,000 works from Helge Achenbach's company expected to fetch between €3m and €4.5m

More than 2,000 works from the collection of the disgraced Helge Achenbach’s art consultancy are due to be auctioned by the Cologne-based auction house Van Ham next month. The sale is expected to be one of Germany’s largest contemporary art auctions to date. Sotheby’s will auction some of the most prized items in the collection through several sales over the year in London.

One of Germany’s most prominent art consultants, Achenbach was accused of inflating the price of art and vintage cars he had bought for his client Berthold Albrecht, the late Aldi supermarket mogul, and two other wealthy clients. In March, a court in Essen convicted Achenbach of fraud and sentenced him to six years in prison. In a separate civil case in January, a Düsseldorf court ordered the 63-year-old art consultant to pay €19m in damages to Albrecht’s heirs. Achenbach’s company, Achenbach Art Consulting GmbH, filed for bankruptcy in August last year.

The liquidator of the company’s assets, the lawyer Marc d’Avoine, is managing the auction of the works. The collection is estimated to fetch between €3m and €4.5m. The first round of auctions through Van Ham on 17 to 19 June will be held in Düsseldorf, at the art consultant’s warehouse and the former studio of Thomas Ruff and will include 1,400 lots. On 20 June, 120 works by artists including Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Günther Förg, Candida Höfer, Jörg Immendorff, Gerhard Richter, and Thomas Struth, will go under the hammer at Van Ham in Cologne.  

Sotheby’s will sell pieces by artists including Max Ernst Peter Doig and Tony Cragg, in its forthcoming Impressionist and Modern art day sale on 25 June and its contemporary art day sale on 2 July, among others.