He was immensely popular during his lifetime and if proof were needed that his fame endures, the auction on March 20 at Neumeister (27% buyer’s premium) in Munich certainly provided it.
On offer was a copy of Zille’s Zwanglose Geschichten und Bilder (Informal stories and pictures), a classic example of his work, published in 1919.
The book itself, which contains 49 lithographs, is not particularly rare, but this was one came from the luxury edition of 50. The first 15 contained hand-coloured and signed illustrations and, as Neumeister was offering copy number one, considerable interest resulted from Zille fans.
The book had once belonged to Ludwig Klitzsch, who in the late 1920s became director of the famous UFA film studios outside Berlin, where such classics as Metropolis and The Blue Angel were made.
A dozen bidders in the room and on the phones started proceedings at €10,000.
After some time, most dropped out, eventually leaving a bidder in the room to compete with a dedicated and obviously highly determined Zille collector who won the day at €85,000 (£73,275).
£1 = €1.16