Tulips auction brings NORD/LB Arts Foundation to bloom

Last night, Jeff Koons’ sculpture “Tulips” from the NORD/LB art collection was sold. In an auction held at Christie’s in New York, the piece of art sold for the price of 33.7 million dollars (26.3 million Euro). The net proceeds of the auction, estimated at approx. 30 million dollars (22 million Euro), will be used as the start-up capital for a foundation that NORD/LB will establish to promote art and cultural projects within its region of business.

“We are very satisfied with the results of the auction. The sale price is over ten times the price that we paid in 2002”, explained the chairman of the management board, Dr. Gunther Dunkel. “This is really a tremendous start for our NORD/LB Arts Foundation, which we plan to use to expand and intensify our cultural sponsoring activities. With this sale, the foundation has been given the possibility to continuously support interesting art and cultural projects in our business region.” The Arts Foundation will be set up within this year, all necessary preparations are already underway. In the coming year, the foundation will begin its operative work.

“Plans for a NORD/LB cultural foundation have been around for awhile”, explained Dunkel. After having been repeatedly approached by parties who have submitted offers for the Koons sculpture, the idea arose to use the proceeds of the sale for the capitalization of an Arts Foundation. “It is with a heavy heart that we part from the Tulips. This presents us, however, with the possibility to set impulses by sponsoring a variety of art and cultural projects within our operating area”, said Dunkel.

Since March 2004, the Tulips (1995-2004, high chromium stainless steel with transparent color coating, 2.03 m x 4.57 m x 5.20 m) have been a permanent installation in the courtyard of the NORD/LB headquarters in Hanover. The bank acquired the sculpture in February 2002 for 2.5 million dollars. In May of this year, the ca. four-ton heavy Tulips were removed and prepared for the auction. They are currently being shown in front of Christie’s headquarters in New York on 20 Rockerfeller Plaza.

The sponsoring commitment of the NORD/LB

Since its foundation, NORD/LB has been involved as a patron of culture and of the arts in Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It is, for example, a sponsor of major music festivals such as the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau, the Usedom Music Festival, the Festival of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the Lower Saxony Music Festival and the Handel Festival Göttingen. Another focus is the commitment to museums and art associations, e.g. through sponsoring exhibitions or via the acquisition of works of art. This has made it possible to preserve and make accessible to the public various collections of works by Kurt Schwitters, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, FK Waechter and Ronald Searle.

Since 1999, the NORD/LB also operates its own art gallery in Hanover and owns an extensive collection of contemporary art since 1945. Works from Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Louise Bourgeois, Rebecca Horn, Jörg Immendorff, Per Kirkeby, Jannis Kounellis, Sol LeWitt, Markus Lüpertz, Jonathan Meese, Sigmar Polke, Neo Rauch, Gerhard Richter, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly, as well as additional works from Jeff Koons (the color lithographies “Flowers” and “Untitled [Dow]”, the grano lithography “Donkey” and the porcelain sculpture “Balloon Dog”) can be found among the collection of over 3,000 works.

In addition to its sponsorship of culture and the arts that NORD/LB plans to operate through its new foundation, the bank will of course continue its extensive commitment to social and charitable projects, as well as its funding of the sciences.

NORD/LB Norddeutsche Landesbank is the leading universal bank in the north of Germany. With a balance sheet total of EUR 228 billion and 7,300 employees, NORD/LB Group belongs to the ten largest banks in Germany. As a commercial bank, NORD/LB offers an extensive range of financial services to private, corporate and institutional customers. In the area of structured finance, NORD/LB’s expertise ranges from international ship and aircraft financing to renewable energy, infrastructure, industry and commercial real estate projects. The bank looks back on almost 250 years of history. As the Landesbank of German federal states Lower Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, it supports the public sector in municipal financing and assumes the responsibilities of a central bank for the savings banks in these two states as well as Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

High resolution photos of the sculpture “Tulips” can be downloaded and used for media purposes (Photographer: Ulrich Reinecke):
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