Gerhard Richter’s US$15m Abstract Painting Up for Auction to Become the Most Expensive Western Art Sold in Asia

The Hong Kong Autumn sales will commence in merely one month and Sotheby’s has finally revealed the highlight lot of their Contemporary Art Evening sale. 

Leading the sale is Gerhard Richter’s masterpiece Abstraktes Bild (649-2) which was painted in the 80s. The piece will appear on the auction stage at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 6th October with an estimate of HK$120m-140m (US$15m-18m). Given the price point, once sold, the painting will become the most expensive piece of Western art sold in Asia. 

Gerhard Richter is considered as one of the most important German abstract artists

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (649-2), oil on canvas

Created in: 1987
Size: 200 x 200 cm
Estimate: HK$120,000,000 - 140,000,000

Richter is one of the most top-ranked artists in Contemporary art in terms of his fame, status and net worth. Known for his abstracts and photorealistic paintings, Richter has set records in the auction world, respectively in 2015 and 2013 at Sotheby's. The records are:

  • Abstract painting|Abstraktes Bild, 300.5 x 250.5 cm, Sotheby’s London, sold for £30,389,000 (around US$39m)
  • Photo-painting|Domplatz, Mailand, 275 x 290 cm, Sotheby’s New York, sold for US$37,125,000

Abstraktes Bild was sold in 2015 for £30m and set the record for a work by a living European artist. Today, Abstraktes Bild and Domplatz, Mailand still rank fourth and fifth on the list, preceded only by American artist Jeff Koons and British artist David Hockney. 

Abstraktes Bild set a world auction record for Richter 

Abstraktes Bild (649-2) will appear in Hong Kong for the Autumn Sales

Richter began to produce abstract art in the 1960s and his techniques matured in the 80s. Abstraktes Bild was painted in 1986 while Abstraktes Bild (649-2) was created in 1987. 

From 1986 onwards, Richter would relinquish any planned compositional elements by using a homemade squeegee to rub and scrape the paint that he had applied in large bands across his canvases. 

The ‘squeegee’ technique invented by Richter

Part of Abstraktes Bild (649-2)

Abstraktes Bild (649-2)

In his abstract works, Richter continues to allude to the theme of landscape, a subject often seen in his photorealistic paintings previously. His abstract paintings capture an atmosphere akin to a post-impressionistic translation of landscape scenery in the world of Western art. 

The title of the most expensive Western artwork sold in Asia is held by KAWS’s THE KAWS ALBUM, sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for HK$115m (US$14.8m). 

With an estimate of HK$120m-140m (US$15m-18m), Abstraktes Bild (649-2) will very likely replace KAWS’s work as the next title-holder of the most expensive piece of Western art sold in Asia. 

THE KAWS ALBUM held the title of the most expensive Western artwork sold in Asia

Auction details

Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Sale: Contemporary Art Evening Sale
Sale date: 2020/10/6|7pm
Location: TBC