The magazine began publication, edited by Franz Burda, as Das Ufer in 1948. In 1954 it became an illustrated magazine and was renamed Bunte Illustrierte. The modern format, Burda is quoted as saying, was inspired by Andy Warhol. The magazine is published by Hubert Burda Media on a weekly basis on Thursdays. The present editor is Patricia Riekel.
Bunte had a circulation of 694,500 copies in 1999. Retail sales in January 2006 were 725,036, down on January 2005's 748,843, although subscribers were up in 2005, at 123,273 from 2004's 119,236. In 2004, Bunte was the eighth best selling magazine in Germany (7.4% coverage), second in women's magazines behind Bild der Frau (8.2% coverage). The circulation of Bunte was 648,923 copies in 2010. During the fourth quarter of 2014 its circulation was 519,570 copies.