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Gerhard Richter’s "Abstraktes Bild (725-4)", previously held in the artist’s private collection. Estimated at £14-20 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s London Contemporary Art Evening auction on 10 February 2016 will be led by one of only a handful of truly spectacular examples of Gerhard Richter’s Abstrakte Bilder remaining in private hands – a monumental canvas from 1990, previously held in the private collection of the artist. 

Painted in 1990, Abstraktes Bild (725-4) remained in the artist’s private collection, away from the public eye, until 1996 when it was unveiled at an exhibition of his personal paintings at the Carre d’Art in Nimes: “Gerhard Richter: 100 Pictures”. The work has not been exhibited publically since. 

Acquired by the current owner via Marian Goodman and Anthony d’Offay in 1996, Abstraktes Bild will now be offered at auction for the very first time, with an estimate of £14-20 million (US$ 21.1-30.1 million). 

There continues to be great momentum in the Richter market, particularly for his abstract works. This particular example is monolithic and muscular, a masterpiece with a spectacular structure comprised of dramatic layers of a kaleidoscope of colours. With its enviable provenance, it has all the ingredients you’d hope for from a truly great Richter abstract.” – Isabelle Paagman, Sotheby’s Senior Director, Contemporary Art. 

The world’s most valuable living painter, Gerhard Richter has seen his auction record broken three times in the past four years, most recently at Sotheby’s in London when an Abstraktes Bild from 1986, estimated at £14-20m, sold for £30.4m ($46.4m) in February 2015. This price exceeded the previous auction record for the artist by 25% and the previous record for an abstract by Richter by 43%. He continues to be the world’s most valuable living painter, and Europe’s most valuable living artist. 

The record for abstract works by Richter has been broken ten times in the past eight years, and momentum continues: last year four abstract works by the artist sold for over $20 million. 

Abstraktes Bild (725-4) dates from a period that witnessed the artist’s finest abstract creations. Half of Richter’s monumental abstract paintings from this period (1989-1990) are housed in museum collections. Indeed, the paintings which preceded and proceeded this work are housed in the Kunstmuseum Bonn and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. 

Beneath the monochromatic snow-like surface lies a medley of colours, hot red, cobalt blue, Monet-esque pink, pastel green, and sunset hues of yellow and orange - a trademark of Richter’s works from this year, and a character of other museum-owned works such as January, December and November in the collection of Saint Louis Art Museum.