German auction firm Nagel, hard hit by coronavirus, sold to unknown buyer

Nagel Auktionen, a Stuttgart-based auction house founded in 1922, has been sold to a new buyer with a new management team coming onboard, according to an official announcement released today.

However, it is not yet known who has acquired the auctioneer, which has reportedly filed for a self-administered restructuring proceeding in Germany on 17 June.

Unlike normal insolvency procedure, the self-administered restructuring mechanism under the German insolvency law, allows companies to handle the restructuring themselves with management staying in position. It is designed to minimise outside interference.

In the meantime, the firm will continue to trade and all auctions will continue as planned. Proceeds from sales, however, will go to an escrow account managed by court-appointed trustee, instead of being used to pay off debts.

Managing director Philipp von Hutten says: "Consignors have no cause for concern, all monies are safe." He remains confident that the restructuring “will be brought to a successful conclusion”.

The firm has suffered significant financial difficulties amid coronavirus outbreak largely due to its heavy reliance on Asian bidders. It is reported that around two-thirds of the firm’s €20m turnover last year was from auctions focusing on Asian art.

Chinese antiques represented by the firm were highly sought-after in the pre-COVID market. A Qianlong porcelain, for instance, sold for HK$65m (€7.3m) at Nagel's autumn sale in 2018, pulverising the estimated price of €30,000.

The news comes just three months after online auction house Paddle8 filed for bankruptcy in New York.