Born in 1925, he grew up in Munich, where his mother had a grocery shop and where he first met several local art dealers who were later to flee from the Nazis.
After the war he studied law, but also worked part-time for a Munich art dealer. This paved the way for his future career.
In 1948 he set up shop as a dealer and reconnected with several of the émigré dealers he had known in his youth, who were now based in London, Paris and New York.Major collectors also valued his advice and on several occasions, decades later, Rudolf was to auction collections he had helped to amass.
In 1958 he bought a minority share in the Munich auction house Weinmüller, purchasing the rest only a few months later. Nevertheless he retained the name Weinmüller alongside his own until 1974.
One of his first important consignments was the private collection of the renowned Munich dealer Otto Bernheimer, who had returned to Munich in 1948 and had been able to recover many of the works of art that had been confiscated by the Nazis. Maria Callas and Aristotle Onassis were among the bidders. Rudolf was a highly accomplished auctioneer who was always in control of the room, but in essence he remained a dealer with widespread international contacts, sealing many a private treaty sale out of the public eye.
In 1978 he moved to his own premises, a historic building which was partly rebuilt to house an auction room. Passionately Bavarian, he was renowned for his immensely successful sales of south German sculptures and paintings by the Munich School. In 2000 Neumeister auctioned the painting The Eternal Bridegroom by Carl Spitzweg (1808-85) for DM2.9m including premium, an artist record that has stood until the present day.
Many of the pieces that passed through his hands were purchased by museums at home and abroad. In 2008 Rudolf retired from active business, but until late in life was still working behind the scenes and from time to time on the rostrum.
His daughter Katrin Stoll became the sole owner of the firm, but it is no coincidence that all his three daughters are active in the auction trade – with a father like Rudolf Neumeister they had little alternative.