Almost $35 million for an Abstract Painting!

This just happened in London at Sotheby's evening sale (12 October 2012): Gerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild achieved over £21 million, that's almost $35 million, a world record for a living artist...I know, you're all thinking of Mark Rothko, Pollock, Warhol or Klimt, whose paintings have in recent years sold near or above the $100 million mark and sometimes even climbing close to $150 million. 

But here we're speaking of a LIVING artist, and that's simply amazing! 

This is a painting owned by rock star Eric Clapton. He must have celebrated this past week-end. Champagne! Caviar! Perhaps Richter wasn't quite as happy: after all, when he did this painting some 15 years ago, it didn't bring him anywhere near this sum! But there's a big consolation now: he can ask a lot more for his next work and get it!

Did that celebrity ownership help the sale? Perhaps, but I don't think so. There's an objective fact at work here:  Richter is quite simply one of the greatest late 20th century artist still alive, hanging in there - Lucien Freud was the other, but he's no longer around...

So we're left with Richter...Watch the video, you'll catch the excitement among the One Percent!

Makes you think, doesn't it?




PS:  I was just informed (mind you, like any good NYT journalist I won't give out my source, but believe me it comes from someone in the know) that when Richter started out with his abstract paintings in the 1980s, nobody wanted to buy them! Up to that point, he'd made his name making eerily blurred, highly poetic figural paintings derived from black and white photographs, and this sudden turn to abstraction was a shock and it was rejected by his clients. At the time, you could have gotten one of his abstract paintings for maybe as little as $5,000 or $10,000!

Certainly, he's come a long,long way! And it goes to show that people are not generally good at picking the winners...
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