Richter painting sets new record at auction

Domplatz, MailandA painting by the German artist Gerhard Richter has sold for $37m (£24m) at auction, breaking a record he already held for the highest price for a living artist. The painting is entitled Domplatz, Mailand (cathedral square, Milan, in German) is almost 3m by 3m, and was completed in 1968.

The black and white painting resembles an out of focus painting of the Milanese piazza and was commissioned by Siemens. It was hung on the walls of the company's Milan offices for 30 years, and was last bought at auction in 1998 for £2.2m in London by the Hyatt group. The price achieved this week was more than ten times the price the group initially paid.

The new owner of the painting is Donald Bryant, a Napa Valley winemaker, who, according to the Guardian, punched his fist in the air when his final bid was accepted. He said the work "just knock me over".

Richter already held the record for the highest price paid for work by a living artist when Eric Clapton sold a painting of his, Abstraktes Bild for £21.3m in London last year. The artist was the subject of a retrospective exhibition in 2011 – 2012 at the Tate Modern in London.

While Sotheby's celebrated, another major New York auction house had reason to be cheerful. The contemporary art sale at Christie's, New York, has made art history too, with sales totalling a record $495m (£325m). It included works by Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The sale was said to have been part of a "new era in the art market."

Steven Murphy, CEO of Christie's International, told Reuters: "Twenty-five percent of our buyers last year were new to Christie's and four or five of the key lots tonight went to people who have never bought here before."

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