Collector’s Corner: Show Me The Money

Curious about his eccentric private collection of art about money  (a subject we've touched on before from an artist's poing of view), BAPs sits down with lawyer Stefan Haupt and his collection curator Tina Sauerländer. We get a sense of the collection, where the idea for it came from and why Haupt thinks money's a safer bet for a collection than sex.


BAPS: When did you start collecting?

Stefan Haupt: As an art collector or collector itself? As a child I collected cards, and as a youth I collected vinyl records–

BAPS: So how did you move into the art world?

SH: I specialize in entertainment law, copyright law, trademark law. I was working with artists in the field of fine art, and it was a very interesting field. And in the early nineties, I asked myself: is it allowed to work for a fine artist without buying art for yourself? And so I decided if I'm working in the area or field of art I had to buy art myself.

All about honey: detail from work by Nikolaus Eberstaller in the Haupt Collection. Photo: Chris Phillips

BAPS: Did you start knowing that you wanted a collection?

SH: I decided I needed a plan for collecting art, and I can't buy art on the day I see art in a gallery or in the flat of an artist, because after thirty years I will have a crossover collection without a system. It was the nineties. Everybody said painting is dead, and now we are looking for a new kind of art, and the new kind of art in the mid 90s was photography and everyone was looking and running after photography – and so I decided I have to be outside the crowd.

BAPS: And your collection ended up focusing on money-art.

SH: I think you have to find a very special topic. Some topics are not common for Germans to talk about. And these topics are sex, money and death. As a lawyer I have to decide what I can do, and I decided I cannot show sex in a room where I meet my clients. They would go crazy. And I was too young to think about death, and the third topic was money because I'm working as a lawyer through money. So I decided to find money-works: pieces of art which deal with money.

Collector Stefan Haupt explains the work of Sebasitan Siechold. Photo: Chris Phillips

BAPS: How do you find works for the collection?

SH: In the nineties I was visiting a lot of galleries, art fairs, artists at home or at their offices. And year by year, I was becoming more famous. For three or four years now, I’ve been getting 2 or 3 emails every week in which artists or galleries offer money-art in various fields. So I just have to decide which money art is interesting for the collection. I have two curators, Tina [Sauerländer]  and Hermann [Büchner], who I ask: is this really worth buying for the collection, or is it only a replica of similar work that I have already?

Money-art from the Haupt Collection. Photo: Chris Phillips

BAPS: Now that you’re older, will you take on sex or death in a new collection?

SH: Maybe death, but not sex. I'm not brave enough for sex in public.

​The Haupt Collection offers guided tours every first Tuesday of the month, free of charge. Contact the Sammlung Haupt to book. The collection will be on display at the Kunstforum Halle beginni​ng August 20th.

Interview edited for publication. Article by Christopher Shea.