|Richter's "Panorama" show at the Tate|
I remember once hearing Richter claim that he started blurring his paintings because he couldn't paint. I don't believe him. I think he's one of the most talented contemporary painters out there. I wonder if he's making anything off the spike in sales of his work though, or does it all just go to Sotheby's?
In one night this week (Feb 15th), Sotheby's made a cool $80 million, much of it by selling works by Gerhard Richter:
|Eis (Ice), by Gerhard Richter|
Lot 13: Ice by Gerhard Richter, 1981, estimated between 2 and 3 million pounds, sold for £4,297,250.
Dated 1981, the work was "based on a photograph taken on a solo retreat in Greenland in 1972, captures Richter's struggle with his marriage and the exodus from his troubled life in Dusseldorf to a Polar haven."
|Abstraktes Bild, by Gerhard Richter|
|Abstraktes Bild (Rot), by Gerhard Richter|
Lot 8: Abstraktes Bild (rot) by Gerhard Richter, 1991, estimated between 2.5 and 3.4 million pounds, sold for £4,073,250
|Kind (Child), by Gerhard Richter|
"The Sotheby’s auction house made a turnover, during a “Contemporary Art Evening Auction” on 15 February 2012, of £50.7 million. With 63.2% of the bids above the estimated value, the increased amount of lots sold well surpassed the pre-sale estimation of £35.8 million. The auction made 90.5% of its estimated sales by lot and 94.6% by value and set two records for the artists A.R. Penck and Albert Oehlen. Out of the 63 lots in the catalogue collection, only six went unsold." 
Sotheby’s reported a global sales total of $1.17 billion for contemporary art in 2011, selling a record total of $3.4 billion in total art sales in the first half of that year alone. If you add that to Christie's (first half of 2011) sales of $3.2 billion, it's easy to see that the art market is alive and well. At least, that is, at the high end: Sotheby's sold 441 works over $1,000,000.
"The [Richter] exhibition of some 130 paintings and five sculptures spanning five decades, titled "Gerhard Richter: Panorama," opens to the public at the Neue Nationalgalerie on Sunday and runs through May 13."