Estates & Collections
With our wide-ranging expertise in 20 specialist categories, Koller Auctions is the perfect partner for the successful sale of entire estates and collections. We examine and inventory all items suitable for our auctions on site. You will then receive our proposal, which includes an illustrated list of auction estimates as well as our terms. If you decide to consign with us, we will organise the rest, from collection to sale.
Collections are formed over the course of a lifetime, and often over generations. Enthusiasts spend decades intensively studying the artistic, social and historical influences and backgrounds of their personal speciality. They visit auctions and art dealers all over the world, exchange ideas with like-minded collectors and scholars, and continually add more items to their collections. When collections are sold, it is not simply individual objects but entire histories that are presented at auction. It is the wish of many collectors or their descendants to record this life’s work in a publication and at the same time to honour the great achievement that lies behind the building of such a collection.
Koller has sold numerous collections of various genres at auction over the past sixty years, many of them featured in their own catalogues. These carefully researched collection catalogues often later serve as reference works. Contact us for the most professional and effective presentation and sale of your collection or estate.
If you wish to consign to one of our auctions, we will value your artworks free of charge. Please send us photos if possible, or call us. We will arrange an appointment to view your property at your home or in one of our offices in Zurich, Geneva, Genoa, Munich or Düsseldorf. You will then receive our auction estimates so that you can make your decision.How to sell at auction
Contact your local representative
The Sigrist Collection of Arms & Armour
Auction 24 September 2020 (A194)
The collecting interests of the Lucerne officer Marolf Sigrist (1928-2005) quite logically focused on Swiss weapons, especially half-barrels and other pole arms. The Sigrist Collection contained a rare and unique variety of typical Swiss pole arms from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Sempacher half-barrels of the 17th century were represented by examples from Bern, Zurich, and Neuchâtel (lot 1428, sold for CHF 28 000); from Lucerne there were Kriegsgertel (lot 1415, CHF 3 250) and Luzernerhammer (lot 1427, CHF 4 500). Even the first representatives of the Ringiers, who immigrated to Zofingen, produced beautifully shaped half-barrels suitable for combat in the 16th century. Among the few hilt and guard weapons offered was an exceptionally rare "Swiss saber" with a hilt cut in iron, made around 1560 in Munich using a blade by the famous bladesmith Christoph Stäntler (lot 1418, result CHF 18 600). The weapon was owned by Baron Charles Alexander de Cosson (1846-1929) and was part of the Severance Collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1924, and sold by him in the 1970s.
Porcelain from the Estate of Rosmarie Schmidt-Ducret
Auction 24 September 2020 (A194)
Porcelain from the personal collection of revered author and porcelain expert Dr Siegfried Ducret (1901–1972) created a buzz among ceramic collectors in September, as Koller offered 176 lots in a special session of the 24 September Fine Furniture & Decorative Arts auction. The works came to Koller through the estate of his daughter, Rosmarie Schmidt-Ducret, and were lovingly assembled with an unfailing eye for quality and rarity. His selection proved to be irresistible to many collectors, who often bid to multiples of the presale estimates in order to obtain a work from the erudite physician’s collection.
Two similar and rare Meissen porcelain candlesticks with elephant-head tripod feet, circa 1733, sold for CHF 54 000 and CHF 51 000 (lots 1265 and 1266) against conservative estimates of CHF 5 000/7 500 each. Meissen Böttger stoneware pieces sold well, headed by an early plate made for Augustus the Strong and inscribed with his monogram that sold for CHF 48 000 (lot 1220, estimate CHF 10 000/15 000). Other top lots in the sale included a Böttger porcelain figure of a Chinese woman from circa 1715-20 that sold for more than five times its low estimate at CHF 36 000 (lot 1223), a model of a farmhouse from Count von Brühl’s “Dutch village” table service that fetched CHF 29 000 against an estimate of CHF 4 000/5 000 (lot 1264), and a very interesting lot composed of a Vienna blue & white porcelain tea caddy from circa 1744 and its Chinese model, circa 1700, that sold for more than eight times its estimate at CHF 26 000 (lot 1213). Overall the lots from the Ducret porcelain collection sold for 183% by value (not including buyer’s premium), and 73% by lot.
The Müller-Frei Collection
Auction 16 June 2020 (A192)
This private Swiss collection, lovingly assembled over decades, elicited a great amount of interest among bidders, particularly for its stellar examples of Meissen porcelain and English silver. An important Meissen porcelain “crinoline” group after a model by Johann Joachim Kändler from circa 1737 (lot 1542, CHF 50 000/70 000), was hotly disputed among the telephone and online bidders and rose to CHF 214 000. Another Kändler group, depicting an amorous couple with a birdcage (lot 1550) sold for nearly three times its estimate at CHF 116 000.
An English silver hot chocolate cup by Ralph Leake (lot 1531) tripled its low estimate at CHF 64 000. The Müller-Freis also collected Asian porcelain, Old Master & modern paintings, and fine furniture, and works in all of these categories sold very well, for example a fine Chinese porcelain “Doucai” vase (lot 1629) which sold for CHF 208 000 against an estimate of CHF 30 000/50 000.
From Corot to Purrmann
Auction 19 June 2020 (A192)
The auction 'From Corot to Purrmann', presenting a private Swiss collection of modern paintings, far exceeded expectations. The top lot was a view by Max Liebermann of his garden at Wannsee (lot 3115), which nearly doubled its pre-sale estimate to sell for CHF 488 000. Another work by Liebermann, a spontaneous depiction of ice skaters (lot 3122), sold for twice its estimate at CHF 305 000. All three works by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot sold for between four and ten times their estimates, led by 'Ville d'Avray, un coin d'étang', 1865–70 (lot 3114), estimated CHF 20 000/30 000, which realised CHF 200 000.
Three Chinese imperial works of art
Auction 13 June 2017 (A181AS)
Three important Chinese imperial artworks from a private collection were featured in Koller’s June 2017 auction, and their presence created a wave of excitement that was felt as far as Beijing and Hong Kong. The three items – a carved palace partition, a pair of Imperial bronze censers, and a bronze bell with an emperor’s inscription, were in a German private collection for over 100 years and came to the market for the first time in Koller Auction’s sale.
After a prolonged, tense bidding war, the bell sold to a Chinese bidder for CHF 1.2 million (estimate CHF 200 000/300 000). The masterfully carved palace partition was very likely made for the living quarters of the Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908). The partition is the only one of its type ever offered for public sale, and realised CHF 940 500. The Imperial provenance of the pair of unusual bronze censers was never in doubt. Representing mythical dragon-turtles, or Bixi, bidding quickly rose far above the pre-sale estimate and finally ended at CHF 486 000.
The Schmitz-Eichhoff faïence collection
Auction 19 September 2016 (A178)
The wonderful Baroque trompe-l’oeil ceramics collection of Marie Teres Schmitz-Eichhoff aroused international interest, and the 19 September auction registered a total of over 90% sold by value. The catalogue contained approximately 250 faience trompe-l’oeil wares and animal figures from the 18th century: cabbage-form tureens, covered dishes in the shape of bundles of asparagus, and plates with eggs, beans and nuts. Many of these items were the subject of an exhibition in 1999 in the Museum of Decorative Arts (MAK) in Cologne, and again at the Hetjens Museum in Düsseldorf in 2006.
A private collection of Italian illuminated manuscripts
Auction 18 September 2015 (A174)
The seventy-lot private collection of Italian manuscript illumination from the 13th to the 15th centuries lived up to its reputation as “the finest of its kind in private hands,” exciting interest among museums, professionals and private collectors and selling at a healthy 91% by value. The highlights did particularly well, such as an initial V with the coronation of the Virgin attributed to Bartolomeo Caporali, sold for CHF 43 700 (lot 168), an initial S from 1331-1340 with the descent of the Holy Spirit by Vanni di Baldolo realized CHF 41 300 (lot 115), and an initial A depicting Christ by Neri da Rimini from an antiphonary of 1305 changed hands for CHF 46 100 (lot 134). An initial M with the three Marys at Christ’s tomb by a follower of Meo da Siena more than doubled its estimate to sell for CHF 60 500 (lot 113).
Pierre-Jules Mêne – A collection of hunting and animal bronze sculpture
Auction 5 December 2012 (A163)
The private collection of 176 bronzes by Pierre-Jules Mêne realised 70% sold by lot. The outstanding condition of the works encouraged buyers to bid up to several times their estimates. The top lot, which sold for CHF 25 200, was the model 'Valet de chasse et sa harde' (lot 1806). A further hunting scene with a Scottish hunter ('Chasse en écosse') realised CHF 22 800 (lot 1887). An Arab falconer on horseback which was shown at the 1900 Centennial exhibition of French art in Paris, sold for CHF 20 400 (lot 1808) and the bronze of a deer hunt doubled its estimate of CHF 8 000, selling for CHF 19 200 (lot 1863).
The Nessi Collection
Auction 2 April 2012 (S11)
The collection of Luigi Nessi of Ticino was the star of the spring 2012 auction week. Already in the run-up to the sale, a great deal of interest in the group of around 900 scientific instruments, tools and articles of daily use, from the Renaissance to the modern age, was becoming apparent. On the auction day, an large number of international buyers from museums, the trade and the private sector filled the auction room and bid for nearly 12 hours. When the auction came to an end, 90% of the objects had been sold and, against an upper estimate of CHF 900 000, realised CHF 1.55 million.
The Estate of the counts zu Münster
Auction 26 March 2012 (A160)
In the sale of the estate of the Counts zu Münster, Barons of Grothaus, 91% of the circa 150 lots found buyers, and the auction, against a total estimate of CHF 300 000/450 000, realised CHF 1.2 million. The top lot of the collection was a painting from the school of Marco Ricci. The Mediterranean landscape with ruins brought CHF 312 000 (lot 1621). A sceptre, which was bestowed upon Ernst Friedrich Herbert Count zu Münster as symbol of his status as Marshall, was the second highest seller at the auction, at CHF 156 000 (lot 1629). Also very successful was a Bouillotte lamp which formerly belonged to emperor Napoleon I (lot 1626, CHF 27 600), which had been a gift from Tsar Alexander I to the Münster family during the wars of the coalition (lot 1626). Both portraits of Count and Countess zu Münster sold for CHF 112 800 each to the same owner (lots 1628/1630). The silver and porcelain from the collection also excelled. A massive jug with handle estimated CHF 7 000/9 000 brought CHF 43 200 (lot 1659), and 23 Viennese sweet dishes rose above the upper estimate to CHF 36 000 (lot 1639).
The Felber Collection
Auction 22 March 2010 (A152)
Antique porcelain, according to a widespread notion, doesn’t enjoy the same popularity as it did thirty years ago. The results of the auction of the Felber Collection at Koller proved just the contrary. Realizing a total of nearly CHF 1.5 million – double the pre-sale estimate – the collection of 18th-century Zurich porcelain and silver was hotly disputed by collectors who recognized the rarity of such a collection on the market, assembled with loving care and finely honed connoisseurship over the past 50 years by the erudite couple.
Of the 210 lots offered, 90% went to new owners. Among the buyers were not only the older generation of collectors but also younger bidders. ‘This collection was captivating because of its outstanding quality as well as the fact that it covered the entire range of the Zurich porcelain manufactory’s production’, commented Sabine Neumaier, porcelain specialist for Koller Auctions. ‘This combination created enormous interest in the sale already before the preview’s opening.’ During a round table discussion during the auction preview, a renowned museum curator commented on the significance of the auction catalogue: ‘Koller’s catalogue of the Felber Collection will remain a reference work on the subject long after the auction is over.’Online Catalogue
Cyril KollerImpressionist, Modern and Swiss Art; CEO
+41 44 445 63 30
Stephan KollerFurniture, Estates & Collections
+41 44 445 63 20
SELECTED RESULTS Estates & Collections
HARLEQUIN AND COLUMBINE
CHF 13 110
THREE FIGURES OF A CHINESE 'BONZ' AND TWO CHINESE WOMEN,
CHF 8 125
TWO 'PIKE' TUREENS 'SNOEKPOTJES',
CHF 7 000
COFFEE POT DESIGNED AS A LEMON,
CHF 1 250
TROMPE L'OEIL PLATE WITH EGGS,
CHF 9 375
SMALL ASPARAGUS TUREEN,
CHF 2 375
LIDDED TUREEN DESIGNED AS A CAULIFLOWER,
CHF 9 375
MEAT PIE TUREEN DESIGNED AS A TURTLE,
CHF 2 375
LIDDED VASE WITH APPLIED FLOWERS AND INSECTS,
CHF 10 625
MASTER OF THE DOMINICAN EFFIGIES Leaf from an antiphonary with the initial V and the figure of John the Evangelist. Vellum. Florence, ca. 1340. 495 x 355 mm (historiated initial 115 x 115 mm). Provenance: - Castelfiorentino, Pieve dei Santi Ippolito e Biagio. - 1960, New York, Mortimer Brandt. - 1996, Paris, Les Enluminures. - thence to the current collection Bibliography: - Richard Offner, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, III/VII Florence 1957, p.70. - Miklòs Boskovits, A Critical and Historical Corpus of Florentine Painting, III/IX, Florence 1984, p. 287. Les Enluminures, Cat. 5, Paris 1996, p. 18. - Friedrich G. Zeileis Più ridon le carte (3.ed.), Rauris 2014, pp. 210- 211.
CHF 48 500