According to his own legend, Crimean Tartars kept Joseph Beuys (1921-86) alive by wrapping him in felt after his plane had crashed in the Crimea during a snowstorm in 1944.
The story has long been discounted, but when he later became an artist, felt was a quintessential material for many of Beuys’ works.
In 1970 he wore a felt suit for his performance Isolation unit, an artistic protest against the Vietnam War. He determined that the warmth of felt could counter the inhumane cold of war.
After the performance in Düsseldorf, he authorised a Berlin gallery with the production of 110 felt suits of the type he wore. Of these 100 were numbered and sold to collectors.
On December 3, Grisebach (30% buyer’s premium) in Berlin offered number 26 from this edition with a guide of €50,000-70,000. International bidders proved that the artist is far from out of fashion: the suit was knocked down to a phone bidder for €110,000 (£100,000), the highest auction price for a suit of this type.
More recently, following on from the auction last December of works from the collection of Mario Calabria, the former Brazilian ambassador in East Berlin, Grisebach offered a further selection of 55 works in an online auction from January 29-February 14.
Among the works featured were several by the Brazilian artist Elisa Martins da Silveira (1912-2001) which made substantially more than their estimates, including an oil on canvas, Trés dançarino from 1958.
The small painting, which measures 6½ x 9¼in (16.5 x 23.5cm) and is signed and dated on the reverse with brush in grey Elisa/1958, made a hammer price of €8000 against a guide of €400-600.
£1 = €1.10/SFr 1.18/$1.35