Thursday morning begins slowly in the Sotheby's auction room in Cologne.

Advertising posters from before the First World War are sold from Karl Lagerfeld's estate.

The fashion designer loved German prints of the early 20th century: advertisements for AEG, for Wilhelm Braun's "Bespoke Fashion and Sport" store in Munich, for electric irons by Degea, for the cabaret "Die Elf Scharfrichter".

Walter Schnackenberg, Lucian Bernhard, Bruno Paul, Ludwig Hohlwein: Nobody had a larger collection of modern advertising posters.

Had: Because the fashion designer died in 2019, his estate manager is still rummaging through the apartments and houses that are full of designer furniture, books, works of art, posters, drawings, suits, jewelry, sunglasses, iPods.

Now if a few hundred pieces are auctioned,

Alphonse Kaiser

Responsible editor for the department "Germany and the World" and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Magazin.

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Many of the advertising posters hung in Lagerfeld's villa in Louveciennes west of Paris, which he furnished in the style of the 1910s and 1920s in the last years of his life.

Pierre Mothes, "Vice President" of the French Sotheby's branch, who examined everything, quickly realized that the posters hanging upstairs in the hallway had to be offered in Germany, in the new Sotheby's building in Cologne's Palais Oppenheim.

So it is that after the estate auctions in Monaco and Paris in December, the house on Gustav-Heinemann-Ufer in the Bayenthal district is now, so to speak, inaugurated with the auction of a further 236 lots.

This also fits well because the banker Emil von Oppenheim had the magnificent villa built in 1908 based on Parisian models.

"The estimates are exceeded by a factor of three"

The auctioneer is standing at the lectern, holding the gavel, but it only comes down after an artificial pause, the online bids are running on a screen, a few bidders are sitting in the audience, nine women and a man on the wall on the right with customers on the other end of the line line, and on the left in the window the Rhine flows lazily by.

When a poster by Emil Pirchan ("Solstice Celebration") is auctioned off, the auctioneer exclaims: "Oh, we have another one." The audience laughs.

It's starting slowly, there's a lot to be had, so you're grateful for encouragement.

The posters are all sold above the estimated price (800 to 1200 euros).

It only gets exciting when it gets more personal: twelve designer sunglasses (estimate 300/500 euros) are sold for 4500 euros;

a Steiff teddy bear with a Lagerfeld look (800/1000) brings in 9,500 euros;

twelve more sunglasses (300/500) then even cost 5800 euros.

Then there is the surcharge, of course.

Pierre Mothes, who came all the way from Paris, is in a good mood.

The evening auction on Wednesday with 57 lots has already brought in 501,400 euros: "The estimates were exceeded threefold." The auctions in Monaco and Paris, with many more lot numbers and some spectacular offers such as the Rolls-Royce Phantom (436,000) and the Phantom Drophead (375,500) even brought in 18.2 million euros.

The Wednesday highlight in Cologne: the color lithograph “The Cabinet of Dr.

Caligari” by Fritz Rotstadt for 163,800 euros (including premium).

Chanel is probably on the other end of the line

Lot 78 gets the next morning going: "The Count and the Aunt", three Lagerfeld drawings based on Eduard von Keyserling's stories "Schwüle Tage" (600/800).

Art consultant Caroline Lescure-Hebrard wins the bid with her telephone bidder at 19,000 against the many online bids.

Lot 79, five drawings, "Elegante Damen und Herren", around 1950 (300/500), bring in 20,000.

Now it's fast going up.

Five more “Figures and Portraits” (300/500) add up to 22,000;

the next, also drawn around 1950, at 30,000;

five more, from 1949, after Tolstoy's "War and Peace", already at 50,000.

Intermediate applause in the hall.

"There's always another chance," the auctioneer calls out to the online bidders, because the woman with the phone to her ear won the bid.

But Caroline Lescure-Hebrard secures the highlight again, with a nod: Lot 83, five drawings on "War and Peace" and the "Elective Affinities", from 1949, also still with the signature "KOL" (Karl Otto Lagerfeld - the Otto he later omitted).

75,000 euros plus surcharge: applause.

Who does the art consultant with the thick glasses have on the line?

The bidder number is L0056.

But more detailed inquiries are only answered here with a smile.

Personal handwriting is particularly appreciated in this case.

In all likelihood, on the other end of the line is Chanel, the brand Lagerfeld worked for from 1982 until his death.

They had also struck in Monaco and Paris, as Chanel President Bruno Pavlovsky confirmed to the FAZ.

With the acquisition of the drawings, Chanel would sweep the market empty and create a basis for publications and exhibitions - Lagerfeld's studio on the Rue de Lille, a possible exhibition space, has already been secured by Chanel.

The highlight of the Cologne auction on Thursday afternoon also goes in the direction of:

When it comes to the jackets, the bids somehow get stuck.

Around 2,000 euros, which is about as much as the jackets used to cost in stores.

There's a good chance that Lagerfeld actually wore them, because although he had hundreds of jackets, he changed them far more often than one would believe given his supposedly uniform style.

By the way, L0056 has no interest in the jackets.

No wonder, because they are from Dior.

And from Saint Laurent - of course from the time when Lagerfeld's intimate enemy Yves Saint Laurent was no longer a designer there.

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