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Karlheinz Kaupp
26.03.1960 – 10.03.2023

Hard work, skill, charisma and creativity - Karlheinz Kaupp, who died in Freiburg on 10 March 2023, was an entrepreneur to be reckoned with. Combining courage, innovative spirit, self-confidence and modesty, his curriculum vitae is a prime example of entrepreneurial virtues from which success can be achieved. Growing up in Villingen and Überlingen, Kaupp entered professional life and the family tradition as a cook and hotel clerk, rapidly became a sous-chef and finally the owner of his own restaurant with hotel - and the love of cooking and hospitality stayed with the bon vivant. Through the lively contact with antique dealers who stopped by his restaurant, his passion for old and beautiful things with their own history grew. He gradually adorned his premises with antiques, which excited his guests to the point that they wanted to buy the rarities on the spot.
So, it was the encounter with the world of antiques that awakened his true calling, the trips abroad with antique dealers, the visits to auctions, the first steps towards dealing in collector's treasures himself. At the age of 31, Kaupp decided to finally trade his wooden spoon for the auction hammer and, together with his partner Melanie Edelbruch, founded the Auction House Kaupp, which today resides in the picturesque Sulzburg Castle. The auction house quickly evolved into an important address for art lovers and collectors from all over the world. With his infallible sense for quality and his tireless commitment to his clients, he earned an excellent reputation as a «straight shooter» over the years by being honest, direct, trustworthy, spirited, laughing and, above all, wholeheartedly committing to his cause.
spacer Kaupp had the rare gift of presenting art and antiques in a very special way, highlighting the uniqueness of each object and thus winning the hearts of the bidders. His ability to lead the auctions with humour, passion and expertise made the auction house a meeting place for collectors and art enthusiasts. The auction catalogues created by Kaupp and his team are considered a reference in the industry - the tangible attention to detail and the passion, from research to winning bid, shows the signature of the chef who leaves no ingredient to chance whilst he skilfully assembles, creates harmony but also surprises. Whether postmodern sculpture or old master painting - Karlheinz Kaupp knew how to discover and share the beauty and meaning of creativity and craftsmanship. He was known for his warm-heartedness and his ability to connect people, forming a growing network of buyers, sellers and partners who eventually became friends of the house. All were welcome at his auction house, from the art novice to the seasoned collector.
Karlheinz Kaupp's strategy of a broadly diversified assortment - ranging from African sculptures to modern art, from toy trains to designer jewellery - was proven more than right by the success it brought on. Whether it was a unique ZERO art collection, a Fabergé table clock by Michael Perchin, Franz Kafka's legendary «Mäuse-Brief (mice letter)» in an exquisite autograph auction, a fire-gilt sculpture of the White Tara, the archive of pipe organ builder Johann Andreas Silbermann or a series of top bids on Spitzweg paintings - his auction house knew how to draw attention to Sulzburg on the national and international stage. Thanks to Kaupp's intuition in the search for new auction items, the trust he enjoyed with consignors and the meticulousness his team put into provenance research, the Sulzburg auction house was able to successfully compete on the global auction stage and reach art enthusiasts in Europe and overseas as well as in the Black Forest.
Yet success never went to Karlheinz Kaupp’s head; he remained grateful for the opportunities he had, down-to-earth and an exceptional person even beyond the auction world. He was regularly involved in social projects with donations as well as charity auctions and was a valued member of Freiburg society. With exhibitions in the castle, special auctions, spontaneous television appearances and many other gestures far beyond the auction business, he proved his warmth, joie de vivre and hospitality. Karlheinz Kaupp was a person for whom his partner, family and friends, solidarity and closeness were the most important things - nowhere was this more evident than at his funeral, where hundreds of people bid farewell with memories and anecdotes. His death leaves a painful gap, not only in the auction world, but also in and around Freiburg, which has lost a true Baden self-made man.
His wife Melanie Edelbruch will continue to run the auction house in Karlheinz Kaupp's spirit and carry on his ideas.