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Tobacco firm’s collection sets Netherlands high

15 March 2010Written by ATG Reporter

SOTHEBY’S staged the most lucrative art sale ever in the Netherlands on March 8 when they offered a 161-lot selection of contemporary art from the corporate collection of British American Tobacco.

In their first auction in Amsterdam of 2010, Sotheby's saw 157 lots sell for a hammer total of 11.3m euros (£10.8m), well above the 4.36m-6.28m euros pre-sale estimate.

The collection itself was well known in the Netherlands. Started in the late 1950s by Alexander Orlow, then managing director of Turmac Tobacco Company in the Netherlands (part of the Rothmans Group), the purpose of the collection was to inspire factory workers by being displayed on the walls of the company's the production hall.

Previously known as The Peter Stuyvesant Collection (Peter Stuyvesant was a brand of cigarettes named after the Dutch governor of New York), the collection, which now numbers over 1000 works, became part of BAT after the London-based tobacco giant merged with Rothmans International in 2000.

The top lot of the sale was Martin Kippenberger's (1953-1997) Dinosaurierei, an oil on canvas from 1996 that made €900,000 (£857,140) against a 200,000-300,000 euros estimate.

It was from one of the artist's most iconic series of Egg Paintings and was one of the last masterpieces he completed before his untimely death at the age of 44 the following year.

By Alex Capon

£1= 1.05 Euros

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