LONDON – A painting by Gerhard Richter owned by British guitarist Eric Clapton has sold for £21.3 million ($34.2 million), a record for the work of a living artist, auction house Sotheby’s said.
An anonymous bidder bought the red, blue and yellow oil painting on canvas, “Abstraktes Bild (809-4)”, in London on Friday for more than ten times the $3.4 million that Clapton paid for the painting plus two others in New York in 2001.
The price beat pre-sale estimates and Richter’s previous record of $21.9 million in May for “Abstract Picture (7938-3)”.
The German artist, 80, is described as the world’s top-selling living artist.
Richter was born in Dresden and grew up in communist east Germany. He now produces both abstract and figurative painting as well as photographs from his Cologne studio.
His profile has been boosted by a retrospective, “Gerhard Richter: Panorama”, which has been shown in London, Berlin and Paris this year.
Clapton, 67, known for his work with Cream and the Yardbirds and for songs including “Crossroads”, “Layla” and “Tears in Heaven”, has an extensive art collection.
The sale comes as the art world descends on London for Frieze Art Week, with contemporary art exhibits from hundreds of galleries around the world.
Sotheby’s senior director Alex Branczik said: “The combination of outstanding provenance and gold-standard quality in this sublime work by this blue-chip artist made for an historic auction moment.
“Gerhard Richter’s international appeal as one of the hottest contemporary artists was once again confirmed this evening.”