Kunst-Auktionshaus WENDL, Rudolstadt in Thüringen


The history

The Story of Kunst-Auktionshaus Wendl

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Anke and Martin Wendl founded the auction house in June 1991 in the heart of the Thuringian residential town of Rudolstadt, and it soon evolved from an insider tip to a successful, internationally renown company.

Martin Wendl’s devotion to art and antiques dates back to his days as a student of the Germanic language, was expressed in his work as an editor for the publishing house Greifenverlag in Rudolstadt, and led him to write several books on antiques and collecting, among them Spass am Sammeln (The Joy of Collecting), Altes Thueringer Porzellan (Antique Porcelain from Thuringia), Urgrossmutters Leib- und Kuechenwaesche (Great-grand mother’s Linens and Underwear), and Alte Thueringer Toepferkunst (Old Thuringian Pottery). In 1973, he and his former wife opened “Antiquitaeten-Stube” Rudolstadt. The tiny antique shop in the center of Rudolstadt soon became a sought after place for collectors amid the gray and dreary life in the former East Germany. In 1987, the Wendls fell victim to a government sponsored campaign to confiscate antiques and collectibles for the purpose of selling them abroad to gain hard currency. The family had no choice but to leave the country.

Soon after German reunification Martin Wendl and his new partner Anke, who grew up in an antique enthusiastic family, decided to return to Rudolstadt and worked on opening an auction house.

The first auction of November 1991, the second anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, turned out to be a great success. Of the 615 lots offered at auction only four remained unsold. The auction hall held only 80 people and was too small to accommodate the bidders, many of whom lined up outside and made their bids through the opened windows. At age 20, Anke Wendl then was probably one of the youngest auctioneers in Germany.

The second auction of Spring of 1992 brought a price sensation: A painting by the important German artist Emil Rau, which had a reserve of DM 8000, sold for DM 36000. The public and the media responded enthusiastically to the auctions, and the number of consigned objects began to increase continuously. A total of nine sales were held in the old premises, with the auction itself being hold mostly in the nearby town hall.

In the autumn of 1994, the family business, now enriched by a daughter and a son, moved to their current location on August-Bebel-Strasse 4. The beautifully appointed Neo-classical mansion, built in 1875, was carefully restored and reconstructed, and furthermore extended in line with current conservation practices.   

Since then, the business has grown into a team of fourteen experts. After successfully completing her university studies at the Institutes of Christie's and Sotheby's in London, daughter Julia M. Wendl also finally joined the family business in 2017. Since 2018, she has been a guest lecturer on the MA Art Business course at Sotheby's Institute of Art, London and a member of the State Expert Committee for nationally valuable cultural and archival property of Thuringia and, since 2020, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Kulturstiftung der Länder. Since 2021, she is the new company owner of the auctioneers WENDL.

Every year, three auctions are held with about 4.000 objects each that are sold within 3 days. The elaborate auction catalogue is published three weeks before every auction and at the same time all lots become immediately available online. Our extensive marketing efforts in all branches of the media and a dominant presence on the Internet combined with a strong commitment to customer service allow us to enjoy the support of over 10.000 loyal customers.