ArtBeat: Eric Clapton, Guitar God & Mighty Shrewd Art Investor

Gerhard Richter: Abstraktes Bild (809-4)
Gerhard Richter: Abstraktes Bild (809-4)

Story and photograph by Martin Benjamin

Ever wonder what else old slow-hand was up to around the time he played the then “Pepsi Arena” in Albany back on June 16, 2001? Well, it seems as though he wasn’t too slow in raising the paddle to buy an artwork that was auctioned at over $1 million.

Apparently, Eric Clapton purchased the Gerhard Richter painting, “Abstraktes Bild (809-4),” at Sotheby’s New York auction house in 2001 for somewhat over one million dollars.

That was then, this is now…

On Friday, October 12, Southeby’s sold that painting in auction to an undisclosed telephone bidder for $34.2 million. Not bad… buy the painting, hold onto it for about 11 years and reap a $33 million profit by putting it up for auction after major retrospective exhibits of Richter’s work this year at the Tate Modern in London and the Pompidou Center in Paris.

This becomes the highest price paid for a work by a living artist, surpassing the May, 2010 sale of a Jasper Johns painting, “Flag,” for $28.6 million. It is doubtful that Clapton is singing the blues over this transaction.

Eric Clapton (photo by Martin Benjamin)

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