Eric Clapton Sends a Richter to Sotheby’s


Gerhard Richter (1932–) is primed for another multi-million dollar sale at the Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction, set to be held in London next month. Abstraktes Bild (809-4), a 1994 abstract oil painting, is expected to sell for $14.1–18.8 million.

Abstraktes Bild, which comes from the collection of Eric Clapton, is one of four works in the series numbered 809, all of which date from the mid-1990s, perhaps Richter’s most accomplished period as an abstract painter. The other three works were sold as a group in November 2001 for nearly $3.5 million, a record sum for Richter at that time (the sale coincided with the artist’s retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York).

Richter’s sale prices have risen steadily in recent years as he has attained elder statesmen status in the art world, with his work selling for double and triple pre-auction estimates in the pre-recession art market in 2008. His prolific output (3000 paintings, according to the Wall Street Journal) means Richter’s work is readily available at auction, and his ability to paint in a variety of styles allows him to appeal to collectors with wide range of tastes. Last year, his sales totaled over $200 million—the most for any living artist—with Abstract Painting (1997) going for $20.8 million, a record for Richter .

In their press release, Sotheby’s is billing this sale as a “unique opportunity to acquire an outstanding work by one of the greatest living painters.” Abstraktes Bild goes on sale Oct. 12, 2012.