A Sotheby’s sale of contemporary European art achieved a new milestone for the auction house in the category, with a masterpiece by Gerhard Richter going for record $46.3 million.
Held on February 10 in London, UK, the evening sale realised $188.20 million, the highest ever total for a Sotheby’s sale of Contemporary Art in Europe.
“The enormous global appetite for contemporary masterpieces played as bidding shot up in leaps of £2 million ($3.04 million) for Richter’s landmark abstract. It is emblematic of the depth of the market that new benchmarks were set not only for rising star Jonas Wood, but also for the greats: Richter, Fontana, Bacon. This record-breaking sale sets the scene for a stellar season of contemporary art at Sotheby’s,” said Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art, London.
The sale was led by Richter’s Abstraktes Bild which established a new record for the artist, selling for $46.3 million (estimate $21.3-31.45 million), a new benchmark for any European living artist
Created in 1986, and marking a radical departure for Richter, the exceptional work is one of the artist’s largest abstract paintings and one of his favourite works.
When the same work was offered by Sotheby’s in 1999, it made $607,500, then a record for an abstract piece by the artist.
Subsequent to that, the work hung for many years in the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany.
One of a number of strong prices for German artists, who together contributed over £40 million towards tonight’s total was Georg Baselitz, whose Hirte sold for $738,994 (estimate $380,600-532,840), establishing a new record for a work on paper by the artist.