Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Richter Rising

Clapton's Richter being auctioned last Friday by Sotheby's.
Last Friday, an abstract painting by Gerhard Richter which was owned by Eric Clapton sold at auction for $34 million. This is a record amount for any painting by a living artist. Not even Andy Warhol saw any of his works reach such heights of monetary success.

I have mentioned that Richter is my favorite living painter. His abstracts get most of the publicity these days and not without merit. I was initially drawn to Richter because of the amazing imagery and raw emotion exhibited in his abstracts.

But, there is so much more to Richter. His photography and photorealistic painting is worthy of note. His installations are famous, though I admit most of them do very little for me. His recent stained glass work is pretty incredible, however. Richter is an artistic genius not only for his depth of creativity but for its extraordinary range as well.

The St.Louis Art Museum holds my three favorite Richter abstracts (entitled November, December, and January). Jennifer and I have discussed the possibility of visiting them one day. It would be worth the trip if we can find the time. In the meantime, we hope to return to the High Museum in the next few weeks and see the Richter's on display there again.

It is a sign of the economic times when artwork is seen by the elite as a great investment. Art in general has been fetching enormous sums of money since the Great Recession started. Clapton paid about $3 million for the work in 2001. Not a bad return for a brilliantly painted canvas he got to enjoy for ten years and then make about 1000% ROI on (before Sotheby's commission).


Late note:  It was reported that Clapton actually owns two more Richter's which are part of the same series as the one he sold.  A chance at $60 million more?

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