Contemporary Art

50 Years of Sotheby's in Germany: Making History in the ZERO Sale

By Bastienne Leuthe

D uring the 14 years that I have worked at Sotheby's, there have been a number of special moments that I remember with great pleasure. In 2005, after my art history and economic studies at the University of Lüneburg, Germany, and Pavia in Italy, I started as a graduate trainee at Sotheby's — first in Paris and later in London. During my time in Paris I had the chance to work on the great Durand-Dessert collection and learned a lot.

Bastienne Leuthe

I plunged into the world of Arte Povera and got the chance to meet François Morellet, whose work I very much admire. During my very first years in London, which I literally spent in the basement, I was working on the Evening Sales and had to catalogue and research the works, write art historical essays on the works in the sale and before the sale prepare condition reports. I loved being so close to the art works and enjoyed every second.

Nowadays, I especially appreciate the personal client contact. Each visit is different and each collection is connected to its own story. A special relationship of trust develops over time, which allows personal insights and conversations. My enthusiasm for contemporary art is my driving force. My intuition, my expertise and my patience form the base of my work.

The right moment is often decisive. A special highlight for me in 2010 was the auction of works from the extensive Lenz Schönberg Collection, from which I was able to select 49 key works for the auction. For the first time, a whole collection of Zero art was offered on the international market. I think our galleries rarely looked so beautiful. The fact that these works were sold for twice the estimate reflected the quality of the works. To be on the pulse of the times, but at the same time not to be distracted by trends, is my intention. Every day I look forward to this exciting and challenging task.

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