The firm was founded in 1707 by Emperor Joseph I and, with its history of more than 300 years, it is the oldest of the great auction houses of the world.
One of Vienna’s best-known institutions, the Dorotheum can be said to embody a part of Austrian history. Eighty years after its foundation as a pawnshop, the "Versatz- und Fragamt zu Wien", it moved into the premises of the former Dorothea Convent, whose name it still bears. The magnificent palace – the Palais Dorotheum, which eventually supplanted the old convent in the Dorotheergasse, was completed in 1901. The famous Ringstrasse architect Emil Ritter von Förster had supplied the designs for the new building in the Neo-Baroque style. The opening ceremony was attended by none less than Emperor Francis Joseph himself. Even then, the facilities met all the requirements of a major auction house in a truly excellent fashion; the spacious showrooms and salons became a favourite meeting place for the high society. Today the Palace continues to provide the perfect setting and an attractive ambience for the Dorotheum’s major international auctions.
Since autumn 2001, the Dorotheum has had private owners, who continue to conduct business with a great deal of personal commitment and a lot of enthusiasm for art. It is the goal of the management to further expand Vienna as an auction venue and at the same time preserve the charm of this traditional institution. With an intensified client service, a young image, and the expansion of its excellent international contacts, the Dorotheum intends to preserve and further develop its interesting profile for art lovers and collectors. Key initiatives are being taken especially in the fields of Modern and Contemporary Art.