A record price for a work by a living artist at auction was set last night by Germany’s Gerhard Richter. His out-of-focus, photo realist painting of Milan’s “Domplatz, Mailand,”(cathedral square) sold for $37.1 million at Sotheby’s.
The large canvas had been estimated at $30 million to $40 million selling for $37.1 million. This is a shattering record both for Richter and raises the goalpost for any living artist for a work sold at auction.
“Domplatz, Mailand” was a commission work executed for the electronics giant Siemens Elettra. The Brief was to produce a monumental work for their Milan offices in 1968. The canvas was Richter’s most ambitious painting, at the time of creation. It spanned in excess of 9 by 9 feet and was the largest figurative work he had produced. Its sheer technical accomplishment was remarkable. Today, the work stands as the epitome of the artist’s celebrated 1960s photo-painting canon. Domplatz, Mailand hung in Siemens’ offices for 30 years before appearing in a Sotheby’s London auction in 1998 where it was acquired by the esteemed Pritzker family of collectors for a then record price of $3.6 million. It subsequently hung in their Park Hyatt Hotel in Chicago for over a decade. The painting is now being sold by the Hyatt Hotels Corporation.
Other highlights in the sale saw the Abstract expressionist Barnett Newman break a record for the artist’s work “Onement VI,” a massive blue painting from 1953. The masterpiece was offered by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The canvas made $43,845,000 commission all in, a record for the artist. Clifford Still’s abstract oil painting “PH-21” realised $20.9 million and a Cy Twombly’s “Unititled (Bolsena),” fetched $15.4 million.
However not everything was flying off the shelves, Jeff Koons “New Hoover Celebrity IV” estimated at $10m to $15m was a non starter and Francis Bacon’s “Study for Portrait of P.L” also failed to find a buyer at $30-$40 million.
Photo Courtesy Sotheby’s © 2013