Make no mistake: this is not just an upscale pawnshop for strapped aristocrats palming off Grandpa’s patinaed oil portrait. Founded in 1707 by Emperor Joseph I, the Dorotheum is one of the world’s most important auction houses with more than 100 specialists in over 40 departments ranging from old master paintings to automobiles. This Viennese institution now successfully attracts younger international buyers with increasingly popular design auctions.
Fantastic rare 20th-century design pieces are on the auction block along with some relatively affordable objects—with a bit of luck. If you want to shop at fixed prices, Dorotheum Gallery is the largest antique store in the city where you can cart off pictures, furniture, rugs, silver, porcelain and glass from all stylistic periods. The Art and Design Gallery on the second floor concentrates on pre-20th-century art, from Art Nouveau up to the present. Acquisitive fashionists might also want to check out the fur-heavy textile auctions.
In a strategic corporate move, the online auction portal OneTwoSold acquired the Dorotheum. However, the auction house’s dark past as a Nazi sales post for looted objects and artworks—and the fear of restitution suits—has discouraged some investors. A department dedicated to active provenance research has now been laudably established.