Ketterer Kunst - Success story of a family enterprise
Owner-managed to number 1
When company founder Wolfgang Ketterer opened his gallery in Stuttgart in 1954, he had no idea that he had just begun to the first chapter of a true success story. Over 69 years and within two generations, the small gallery has become one of the most important auction houses in Europe. Today the Munich-based company is run by Wolfgang Ketterer's son Robert, who had turned it into Germany's market leader. On a global scale, Ketterer Kunst ranks 7th.
Customer focus as the formula for success
Ketterer Kunst is driven by a highly competent team that boasts a great passion for art and a corporate strategy combining tradition and innovation. For Ketterer Kunst, profound market knowledge, broad art-historical expertise and personal service in a cordial atmosphere are crucial success factors. In over 65 years, many trustful relationships have been established, which are very often passed on to the next generation of collectors. There's one thing we all share: our love of art!
Less is more - much more
Ketterer Kunst's trademarks are its specialization and expertise. Similar to a well-stocked boutique, the company has a focus on Art from the 19th to the 21st century, as well as on Rare Books. In these market segments, Ketterer Kunst reaches not only European collectors but also a global audience. Traditionally, Ketterer Kunst is known for its specialization in art from German-speaking countries, but in recent years an ever increasing number of works from international artists in demand on the European, US-American and Asian market has fetched top prices at Ketterer Kunst.
International and world-renowned
The art market is becoming ever faster and ever more globalized. Even the large, classic auctions at our Munich headquarters have become global events through scores of online and telephone bids. We receive nearly 90 percent of our bids over the phone or online, and around half of the sales volume is generated by bidders from more than 50 different countries!
This makes our close contacts to international collectors, galleries, museums and experts all the more important. The dense network has already led to many (world-) record prices for our clients.
Top management and top team
In order to advance the expansion of our global network, two recognized art historians and market experts joined the management team of Ketterer Kunst in 2021. In 15 years with Sotheby's, Nicola Countess Keglevich has acquired excellent international contacts, which she is going to expand as Senior Director for Strategy and Internationalization. Senior Director Dr. Sebastian Neußer will focus on our customer service in the high-end segment and the expansion on the international market. And with Dr. Mario-Andreas von Lüttichau, Ketterer Kunst won a world-renowned art historian, author and exhibition curator as academic consultant in 2019. These three top-class experts expand the company's previous management board consisting of managing director and owner Robert Ketterer, auctioneer Gudrun Ketterer and managing director Peter Wehrle. Now the management team is perfectly manned to take on the challenges of an increasingly important international orientation.
Individual, intensive, international
Every sales success requires preliminary strategic planning and implementation. That is why our team of art experts ensures that each work is meticulously prepared for a select audience long before the auction: in the best possible condition and with a detailed expertise.
In most cases an in-depth provenance research has proven a crucial factor to increase the value of an artwork. Origin and history of an artwork, its often colorful past and historical setting - this "biography" is as much part of a work of art as a beautiful frame! We also adhere to the wonderful tradition of regaling our collectors with elaborate print catalogs.
Where one record chases the next
International bidders regularly award our quality awareness, service orientation and passion with record prices. We have knocked down some 54 works beyond the magic million euro line. With a result of €4.75 million, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's oil painting "Das blaue Mädchen in der Sonne" from 1910 fetched the to date highest price in the company's history (auction 535 in December 2022).
Seven decades of Ketterer Kunst
Ketterer Kunst's success story also includes a lot of history: Join us on a journey through seven decades of Ketterer Kunst!
The fifties: Gallery opening in Stuttgart
In the mid-fifties, with the German economic miracle in full swing, art dealer Wolfgang Ketterer opened his small gallery on the prestigious Hackländerstrasse in Stuttgart shortly after he had demonstrated his keen sense for the art trade: He sold a painting by Edvard Munch for 370,000 DM - an amount more than impressive so soon after the war.
The sixties: A new home at Villa Stuck
Well around ten years later, Wolfgang Ketterer moved to Munich. The state capital had become an art metropolis, and the magnificent Villa Stuck provided the perfect setting for one of the largest galleries of modern art. With twelve employees, an own print- and photo shop, the company continued to grow. Solo exhibitions by important artists, among them Erich Heckel, Horst Janssen, Ernst Fuchs and Renato Guttuso, attracted the crowds. On May 17, 1968, the hammer went down for the first time: Wolfgang Ketterer held his first auction - it was also a premiere for Modern Art in Bavaria.
The seventies: New York, New York!
Apart from Modern Art, the gallery expanded its fields of expertise and created a highly interesting mix of Art Nouveau, African and Pre-Columbian Art, Asian Art, Posters, Antiques, Rare Books and Old Master paintings. Wolfgang Ketterer's intuition for the art market attracted more and more international collectors. In 1977 he opened a branch in New York.
The eighties: from Villa to Palais
The thriving business in Munich required another relocation in 1982: to Carolinenpalais, just a two minute walk from the Alte Pinakothek. In 1989, the year the Berlin Wall came down, the gallery continued on its course of expansion: Wolfgang Ketterer took over the venerable Hamburg auction house F. Dörling, which then looked back on a history of almost 200 years.
The nineties: Robert Ketterer takes over
With so many activities, it was high time to unite everything under one company roof. The Galerie Wolfgang Ketterer is renamed as Ketterer Kunst in 1991. Robert Ketterer, the third of Wolfgang Ketterer's four sons, took over management in 1994. As early as in the mid nineties, he decided to place his art catalogs on the then very young internet. When the a tiny company called Google launched its search engine in 1997, Ketterer Kunst already was at the top of the search results.
The 2000s: the first price in the millions
By 2002 the Carolinenpalais had also grown too small, and Ketterer Kunst moved its headquarters to the Palais Prinz Alfons von Bayern on Prinzregentenstraße, where they would celebrate two premieres in 2007. Premiere one: an "online only" auction - an idea that was immediately met with enthusiasm by bidders around the world and which today is an integral part of the auction program. Premiere two: the first hammer price in the millions - Emil Nolde's oil painting Nadja fetched € 2,537,000.
The following year, Robert Ketterer moved his art business to the present company building. The purpose-built "House of Art", right in the heart of the New Munich Trade Fair Center, offers 3,500 square meters on three floors, comprising an auction room, a large exhibition area and a lot of space for art from all over the world. On occasion of the opening, the world-renowned artist Armin Müller-Stahl exhibited his works.
Today: German market leader in the global top 10
54 hammer prices in the millions later, Ketterer Kunst has become manifest in its position as the leader in the German-language region – and according to the artprice database, it is the only top-selling family-owned company in the top global Top 10.