Eric Clapton Puts His $20 Million Gerhard Richter on the Market at Christie’s

It's going under the hammer in November.

Eric Clapton is a passionate art collector. Photo: Jo Hale/Getty Images.

British rock legend Eric Clapton has consigned his Gerhard Richter painting to auction for Christie’s upcoming November evening sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art.

In a press release, Christie’s describes the work as “[a] dazzling, prismatic explosion of opulent jewelled tones. Standing as the culmination of a three-decade-long investigation into the properties of paint and perception.”

Clapton bought a series of three monumental 7-foot works for $3.4 million at auction in 2001 from the collection of Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch, including Abstraktes Bild 809-2, which is going under the hammer in New York on November 15.

According to Bloomberg, the rock star already sold the other two of his Richter works in 2012 and 2013 for a combined $55.2 million. If Abstraktes Bild 809-2 achieves its $20 million estimate at auction next month, Clapton could push his return above $70 million, over 20 times what he originally paid.

Gerhard Richter Abstraktes Bild 809-2. Photo: courtesy CHRISTIE'S IMAGES LTD. 2016.

Gerhard Richter Abstraktes Bild 809-2. Photo: courtesy CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2016.

The sale is already being billed as a test of the art market, which is currently experiencing a period of adjustment after a prolonged phase of free-spending and record prices. Indeed, demand for Richter’s abstract paintings has declined over the year as major Richter collectors have already acquired works.

“When there’s a flurry of activity there’s often a pullback afterwards,” Abigail Asher, a partner at art advisory firm Guggenheim Asher Associates Inc., told Bloomberg. “People can retreat in the moment of frothiness.”

The musician has experienced diminishing returns on his other two Richter consignments. According to artnet’s Price Database, the first of Clapton’s three Richter canvasses, which he consigned in 2012, sold for $34.2 million, while the second, consigned in 2013, sold for only $20.8 million.

Art Market Monitor speculated that Sotheby’s decision to offer two Richter works in their upcoming sale may have prompted Christie’s to wheel out a Richter of their own—albeit with the Clapton provenance attached to it—in an attempt to one-up their rivals.

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