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German artist Gerhard Richter shakes up the auction market in Asia

The painter's Abstraktes Bild (649-2) painting recently sold for US$27.7 million at Sotheby's "Contemporary Art" sale.

US$27.7 million (S$37.7 million). That was the winning bid for the work “Abstraktes Bild (649-2)” by abstract painter Gerhard Richter at the recent Sotheby’s “Contemporary Art” sale. A sum well above the pre-sale estimate of $18 million, which shows genuine interest in Asia for works by the acclaimed visual artist.

The painting also set a record for the highest price paid for a work by a Western artist at auction in Asia, eclipsing David Hockney’s “30 Sunflowers” sold for $14.8 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong last July.

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“Abstraktes Bild (649-2)” comes from the private collection of American billionaire Ronald Perelman, who recently announced that he wants to part with many of the works of art in his possession. This was the first time that this abstract composition by Richter was ever auctioned, according to Sotheby’s. It will be added to the collection of the Pola Art Museum, which is located in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park in Japan.

Abstraktes Bild (649-2)

The “Abstraktes Bild (649-2)” record sale demonstrates the appetite of Asian collectors for Gerhard Richter’s works. The sale of his canvas” Frost (1)” already surprised the art world when it sold for $10.2 million , above its high estimate of $8.7 million (HK$68 million), during Christie’s “ONE” event in July.

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The market for works by the German artist experienced a boom in 2015, following a retrospective on his career organized by the Tate Modern. In February 2015, “Abstraktes Bild (801-3)” fetched $46.3 million at Sotheby’s London, an unprecedented record for Gerhard Richter. The painter, who is recognized as one of the major figures in contemporary painting, remains among the 30 most sought-after artists at auction, according to Artsy’s data.

Gerhard Richter is not the only Western artist whose works reached prices in the millions during Sotheby’s “Contemporary Art” sale, which was broadcast live from Hong Kong on October 6. Romanian painter Adrian Ghenie’s “Lidless Eye” sold for $7.1 million, while Francis Bacon’s “Study For a Portrait” reached $4.9 million.

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