Kunsthaus Lempertz – auction house in Cologne

Kunsthaus Lempertz has had its main office in central Cologne since 1917. The building is on the left bank of the Rhine, not far from Cologne's museum quarter. Many institutions and museums such as the Museum Ludwig, the Kunstmuseum des Erzbistums Cologne, the Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Wallraff-Richartz-Museum as well as the internationally acclaimed art fair 'Art Cologne', to name only a few, all contribute to the city on the Rhine's status as one of the most important cities for German art and culture.

Auctions in spring and autumn every year

The most important events in the year of the auction house are of course the auctions which take place in spring and autumn. For every department two auctions a year are held in Cologne. Auctions which do not take place in Cologne include the department of African and Oceanic Art (Brussels) and the Berlin auction (Berlin). The season is always opened by the auction of Paintings and Drawings of the 15th-19th Centuries, followed by Decorative Arts, Old Masters, Modern Art, Photography, Contemporary Art and Asian Art. In addition, for many years Kunsthaus Lempertz has held a twice-yearly jewellery auction in Monaco in cooperation with the French auction house Artcurial.

For each of the mentioned auctions, a preview is held for at least a week in advance of the auction where the works to be offered for sale can be viewed in person. Prior to this, all works can be viewed in the printed or online catalogue. Advance absentee bids can be submitted by fax or internet, and all auctions themselves can be viewed live online, where live bidding is also possible.

Consignments welcome in Cologne at any time

The experts at the auction house in Cologne are available nearly all the year round for consultations. If you are considering consigning an object, please arrange an appointment with our specialists in Cologne. This is also possible in other cities, by arrangement. The exact procedure regarding selling a work of art can be viewed online at 'Sell' including the 'Conditions of consignment' as well as information regarding buying at auction.

Alongside the general auction house daily business, Lempertz regularly holds exhibitions by prestigious artists, most recently from Thomas Heinser, entitled 'Reduziert Photographic Works' in the framework of the festival 'Internationale Photoszene Köln' this autumn.

The history of the auction house began in 1798

In 1798 Mathias Heberle opened an 'Antiquarian bookshop and auction establishment'. After his death in 1840 the company was taken over by its namesake Heinrich Lempertz and was christened 'J. M. Heberle (H. Lempertz)'. The antiquarian bookshop was based at this time in Cologne. Heinrich Lempertz' brother subsequently received permission to open a branch in Bonn and in its opening year of 1844, the first auction took place in Bonn.

The company secured its good name through the auction of numerous, reputable estates. The company was once again taken over in 1875, by an employee, Peter Hanstein, whose descendants still run the concern today, and the new director gradually moved the business back to the city of Cologne. In 1917 Haus Fastenrath on Neumarkt was acquired, but was later destroyed in 1943, along with a large portion of the city centre. The current building which now stands on the site in Cologne was completed in 1952 and is today a listed building. The antiquarian bookshop Venator & Hanstein is also situated here.

Numerous art fairs and events in Cologne

As already mentioned, the art fair 'Art Cologne' belongs to the most important international art events and with around 200 galleries and exhibitors, is the largest of its kind in Cologne. The fair was grounded in 1967 (then called 'Kunstmarkt Köln '67'), and takes place every spring. The organisers describe the fair as the 'first fair for modern art' and as 'internationally the oldest fair still running for the visual arts of the 20th and 21st centuries'

'Art Cologne' is closely followed by the art fair 'Cologne Fine Art'. This event is also an integral part of the national and international art market featuring 150-200 dealers and offering visitors a broad spectrum of art and antiques. The 'Cologne Fine Art', or COFA, was a follow on from the Westdeutschen Kunstmesse, founded in 1970.


Our colleagues at Kunsthaus Lempertz in Cologne as well as those in our national and international branch offices look forward to your visit. Please do not hesitate to contact us. We value your art!