The story of one of the world's most famous collections began in 1977, the year the Swiss siblings Thomas and Doris Ammann founded the Thomas Ammann Fine Art Gallery. What made these Swiss so special: they introduced European collectors to American art of the postwar period. Indirectly, they helped Andy Warhol, who until then had only been known in the American cultural sphere, to achieve worldwide fame.
The fact that they were so successful is probably due to the fact that they cultivated a deep, intimate relationship with the artists whose works they sold. As the auction house Christie's wrote in a news item, Thomas Ammann once said, "You can't collect what you want to sell — because then either you sell all the good things, which is no fun; or you keep all the good things, which bankrupts you." Among the famous artists who represented them are such as Robert Ryman, Cy Twombly and Brice Marden.
Thomas Ammann died in 1993, and Doris Ammann continued to run her brother's gallery until she, too, died in 2021. On May 9, 36 works from the siblings` collection are scheduled to be auctioned at Christie`s, including works by artists such as Francesco Clemente, Martin Kippenberger, Mike Bidlo and Sturtevant. Sixty more works are to change hands at a one-day auction at a later date, which has not yet been fixed. Alex Rotter, chairman of Christie's, 20th and 21st century art, speaks almost rapturously about the collection. It is "indescribable" and being in the presence of these works is "transformative", also because one suddenly feels the "weight of history".