Konrad O. Bernheimer belongs to the fourth generation of one of Europe’s major art dealing families.
Founded in Munich in 1864 by his great-grandfather, Lehmann Bernheimer, the firm opened as a shop for textiles and oriental carpets before expanding to include Italian Renaissance furniture, French antiques, tapestries, porcelain and other objets d’art. By 1900 Bernheimer Fine Old Masters had become purveyors to the Court of Bavaria, and included European aristocracy and American magnates among their clients. In 1939 the Nazis forced the Bernheimers into exile in North and South America. Otto Bernheimer returned to Germany shortly after the Second World War to claim the family’s property and resume its business activities. His grandson Konrad took over the business in 1977. Under his directorship, the gallery began to develop an interest in Old Masters, specialising in European schools from the 16th to the 19th century.
In 2002, Konrad O. Bernheimer acquired the internationally-renowned gallery Colnaghi, thus uniting two long-standing and distinguished art dealerships. Founded in 1760, Colnaghi soon received royal patronage and established itself as the premier dealership for prints. By the end of the 19th century the firm had begun dealing in Old Master paintings and was instrumental in the formation of some of the most important American collections, including that of Isabella Stewart Gardener, Henry Clay Frick and Andrew Mellon. The twentieth century saw Colnaghi establish a reputation as specialists in all periods of Italian painting, although northern European paintings have also played an important part of Colnaghi’s dealing activities. Under the Colnaghi umbrella, Bernheimer joined forces with Old Master drawings dealer Katrin Bellinger and together they acquired the renowned Colnaghi library and archives. Both galleries exhibit together at several international art fairs, including Masterpiece London, the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris and TEFAF in Maastricht, where Konrad Bernheimer has been the chairman of the Pictura since 2004.
Since 2003 the gallery has also included photography of the 19th and 20th centuries in its programme, a new development in the firm’s long history. Creating a dialogue between Old Master paintings and photography, the gallery rooms in Munich’s Brienner Strasse 7 host changing exhibitions. Many of the foremost European and American museums, as well as private collectors from all over the world, number among Bernheimer–Colnaghi's clients.