Clapton's Gerhard Richter painting to top $34m auction record?

Gerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild (809-1), a masterpiece from the collection of guitarist Eric Clapton, will be sold by Christie's in New York on November 12.

Gerhard richter Abstraktes Bild
Richter holds the record for the most valuable living artist, but faces stiff competition from former record-holder Jeff Koons

The piece, valued at $20m-25m, will be looking to top the $34.2m achieved by another Richter work from Clapton's collection at Sotheby's in October 2012, which is currently the world's most valuable work from a living artist.

Gerhard Richter has held the title of the world's most valuable living artist for two consecutive years, with his work totalling more than Monet, Giacometti and Rothko combined in 2011.

The piece hails from Richter's finest period of abstraction, with Christie's Brett Gorvy, chairman of post-war and contemporary art commenting:

"Richter is certainly the greatest abstract painter working today, Abstraktes Bild (809-1) is remarkable for the illusion of space that develops, ironically, out of his incidental process: an accumulation of spontaneous, reactive gestures of adding, moving, and subtracting paint."

The fact that the painting comes from Eric Clapton's noted collection adds further to the appeal: "While the market is selective, the Clapton provenance made a difference. It could have added as much as 20 per cent to the price," commented New York dealer Christophe Van de Weghe following last year's sale.

Despite the high estimate for the piece, it is not the most valuable in the sale, with Jeff Koons' Balloon Dog estimated at $35m-55m. Should it meet this price, Koons will re-take the most valuable living artist title from Richter.

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