In the early nineteen eighties, Rolf Dittmar, a collector from Wiesbaden, came to see me every now and then. He was the ideal customer: while browsing, he occasionally picked up a work of art and put it apart. Then he would say, ‘Das soll ich unbedingt haben’ (I should really have this). He never asked for the price of an object and didn’t care either whether an artist was famous or not.
Dittmar used to organise art shows with his acquisitions. He made an exhibition of artist’s books for documenta 6 in 1977. Soon after, he started to collect cookery books. At first he bought books that were either edited and/or illustrated by artists, but he dropped those requirements pretty fast.
In 1981, I stayed over at Dittmar’s place. He lived in a mansion and the walls were hung with large paintings by Anselm Kiefer. Dittmar had acquired these works when Kiefer was still a relatively unknown artist. This collector wasn’t interested in names, but he definitely knew how to look.
Early in the morning, I found him sitting at his kitchen table working on several art projects. Afterwards he left for work: Dittmar was a lawyer. That same year (1981), Isa Genzken released a gramophone disc on her own. There were seventy five copies. On one side the noise of a motor of a Tri-Star plane could be heard. The other side of the disc was covered in grey enamel paint by Gerhard Richter (Genzken’s partner at the time) and then signed. The Tri-Star disc was priced at 150 German Marks (about € 75) and galleries were offered a 50% discount. I ordered three copies.
In the meantime, Dittmar had also started collecting gramophone discs by artists and he really wanted a copy of Tri-Star. It took years before I sold the other two copies.
After Dittmar passed away, they found eighteen thousand cookery books in his home. Eventually, these were put up for auction in Pforzheim but I do not know what happened to his gramophone discs collection.
In June 2015, one of the seventy five Tri-Star gramophone discs was auctioned off at Karl & Faber for the sum of € 35.000.