He’s best known for breaking records in the music world, but British guitar legend Eric Clapton is now a record-holder in the art game, too. Last Friday, the 67-year-old set a new high when he sold an abstract painting by German artist Gerhard Richter for a staggering $34.2 million at a London auction. It’s the now most ever paid for a work by a living artist, shattering the previous record of $28.6 million.
Even more incredible is that Clapton originally purchased Abstraktes Bild for less than one-tenth what he sold it for last week. The red, yellow and blue oil painting was made by Richter in 1994 and bought by the “Layla” singer seven years later for $3.2 million, according to the Daily Mail.
You’re probably wondering what makes the painting so special, aside from the fact that one of the world’s most beloved axemen deemed it good enough for his own home. Same here. It’s certainly an intriguing piece of artwork and I’m assuming it has subtleties beyond my comprehension, but I honestly couldn’t tell it from something my 7-year-old cousin would bring home from school, which hopefully says more about my lack of art intelligence than the actual caliber of the work.
This isn’t the first time that Richter’s paintings have won big at auction, nor Clapton’s first go-round in art dealing. A group of his works fetched $21 million in May, while former art school student Clapton is well known for his art collection and netted a relatively-paltry $420,000 for about 30 paintings at a 1997 auction.
The Telegraph’s Georgina Adam recently offered an explanation for Richter’s popularity with collectors. “Richter’s late, abstract works are particularly sought after because of their broad appeal: colorful abstracts which can fit into any interior, cannot offend anyone and are recognizable trophies which give the owner immense bragging rights.”