Phillips Private Sales Heat Up With $95 Million Gerhard Richter Exhibition

It's the New York auction house's biggest private sale exhibition ever.

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Gerhard Richter, Stuhl (Chair), 1985. Courtesy of Phillips.
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Gerhard Richter, Yusuf (2009). Courtesy of Phillips.
Gerhard Richter, Yusuf (2009). Courtesy of Phillips.
Gerhard Richter, Stuhl (Chair), 1985. Courtesy of Phillips.
Gerhard Richter, Stuhl (Chair), 1985. Courtesy of Phillips.
Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (1985). Courtesy of Phillips.
Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (610-1), 1985. Courtesy of Phillips.
Gerhard Richter, Kegel Grid (Cone), 1985. Courtesy of Phillips.
Gerhard Richter, Kegel Grid (Cone), 1985. Courtesy of Phillips.
Gerhard Richter, Cage Grid (Komplettes Set), 2011. Courtesy of Phillips.
Gerhard Richter, Cage Grid (Komplettes Set), 2011. Courtesy of Phillips.
Gerhard Richter, P1 (Abstraktes Bild), 2014. Courtesy of Phillips.
Gerhard Richter, P1 (Abstraktes Bild), 2014. Courtesy of Phillips.

A splashy new show of colorful abstract paintings by Gerhard Richter at Phillips is the New York auction house’s biggest private sale exhibition ever, reports Bloomberg. The 11 works on view, 9 of which are for sale, are said to be worth a combined $95 million.

“We are delighted to present this selection of examples from [Richter’s] most iconic body of work[,] and to provide viewers with the opportunity to engage with these seldom-exhibited paintings and innovative editioned works together in one space,” said Robert Manley and Jean-Paul Englen, Phillips’s worldwide co-heads of 20th century and contemporary art, in a statement.

In addition to two monumental tapestries and a 1971 self portrait, many of the works currently on offer at Phillips were made using Richter’s special squeegee technique, which has defined his abstract painting since 1980. The tool creates layers of color, revealing the depth of Richter’s careful under-painting to great effect.

According to the artnet Price Database, Richter’s top-selling work at auction is a 1986 canvas titled Abstraktes bild that fetched £30.39 million ($46.35 million) at Sotheby’s London in February 2015. The artist’s abstract canvases represent nine of his top 10 sales at the block.

While Richter didn’t set any new records in 2016, he had a busy November at the New York auctions, with 17 works selling for a combined over $138 million, or an average of $8.13 million per painting.

According to Bloomberg, the most expensive painting in the current sale, a red 1991 Abstraktes Bild canvas, is priced at $25 million. That’s 17 percent more than its most recent auction price of $21.445 million, achieved at Sotheby’s New York in November 2014. At the low end, Phillips is also selling a $50,000 Richter print.

Compared to auctions, private sales have the advantage of affording more anonymity to buyers by not publicizing sale prices. Bloomberg contends that the private sale market is becoming increasingly important for auction houses, with third quarter numbers at Sotheby’s nearly doubling to $167.9 million in 2016. Of course, 2015 was one of the house’s worst years for private sales in recent memory.

Miety Heiden, who left Sotheby’s, where she was senior vice president and head of contemporary private sales for North America, in March 2016, will sign on to Phillips as head of private sales in March. She had been with the rival house for 19 years.

Gerhard Richter: Abstraktes Bild” is on view at Phillips, 450 Park Avenue, New York, January 7–February 9,  2017.


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