Gilhofer und Ranschburg

Gilhofer & Ranschburg


other names: Gilhofer (1883–1884), Gilhofer & Ranschburg Antiquariats GesmbH (1938–1947), Gilhofer KG (from 1947)

The Viennese book and art antique dealership Gilhofer was founded in 1883 by Hermann Gilhofer (1852–1913) as a general bookshop at Bognergasse 2 in the centre of Vienna. After Heinrich Ranschburg (1860–1914) became a partner and added antiques to the company's activities, Gilhofer & Ranschburg, which also had an auction house and publishing company, became an internationally successful player in the market for antiquarian books, prints and autographs, and also coins. As a result of this rise, which included auctions of the libraries of Clemens Wenzel Metternich and the Russian tsars and duplicates from the Albertina, a branch was opened in 1924 in Luzern, which was managed until it closed in 1941 by Leopoldine Zelenka. After the annexation of Austria to the German Reich in 1938, Heinrich Ranschburg's son Otto (1900–1985) was dismissed as managing director when the business in Vienna was Aryanized, and the former partners Wihelm Schab, Elisabeth Margulies, née Ranschburg, and Ludwig Abelis were obliged to sell their holdings. The lawyer Stefan Lehner functioned as administrator. The company was re-established in February 1939 by the former Prokurist (authorized signatory), Friedrich Steinert, and the Munich antiques dealer Hans Werner Taeuber as Gilhofer & Ranschburg Antiquariats GesmbH. In addition, Adolf Ziegler acquired 95 per cent of the shares for the Reichskammer der bildenden Künste (Reich Chamber of Fine Arts), which he was president of. The new company was founded with the authorization of the Vermögensverkehrsstelle (Property Transaction Office) despite a dispute with Heinrich Höfflinger, a member of the art commission, who put the value of the inventory at 150,000 Reichsmarks, much more than the new partners' valuation of 80,000 Reichsmarks. It was not revealed that the Reichskammer had a majority shareholding in Gilhofer & Ranschburg. In subsequent years, the company exported many Aryanized artworks to Switzerland and sold them through the Luzern branch, but was also active again in Vienna, for example through the acquisition of Rudolf Gutmann's library – originally earmarked for the "Linzer Kunstmuseum" – in January 1944.

After a long legal battle between the Aryanizer Taeuber and the former partners Margulies and Schab, who had fled to New York in 1939, the company was restituted to them in 1949. Taeuber regained it in 1950, however, and managed it – from 1958 with Rudolf Hoffmann, a former employee of the antiques dealership Christian M. Nebehay – until his death in 1970. The activity of Gilhofer KG ended in 2004 with its takeover by Antiquariat Inlibris, Gilhofer Nfg. GmbH.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Agnes Schildorfer/Ute Simonlehner, "Arisierungen" im Falle der Buch- und Kunstantiquariate "Gilhofer und Ranschburg" und "Dr. Ignaz Schwarz", Seminararbeit, Univ. Wien, 2001/02, URL: (3.12.2020).

Werner Schröder, Die Arisierung jüdischer Antiquariate, Teil II, in: Aus Dem Antiquariat: Zeitschrift für Antiquare und Büchersammler NF 7 (2009) 6, 359–386.

Esther Tisa Francini/Anja Heuss/Georg Kreis, Fluchtgut – Raubgut. Der Transfer von Kulturgütern in und über die Schweiz 1933–1945 und die Frage der Restitution, hg. von der Unabhängigen Expertenkommission Schweiz – Zweiter Weltkrieg (= Veröffentlichungen der Unabhängigen Expertenkommission Schweiz – Zweiter Weltkrieg 1), Zürich 2001.

Publications by the person / institution

Zahlreiche Veröffentlichungen für das Auktionsinstitut sowie den Verlag Gilhofer & Ranschburg.


BArch Berlin, R 9361-V/100199, Personenbezogene Unterlagen der Reichskulturkammer.

OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, FLD, Zl. 420.
OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, VVSt, Handel, H. 5509.