Gerhard Richter's Abstrakte Bilder, painted in 1990, will lead a forthcoming Sotheby's sale of contemporary art in London.
The "truly spectacular" artwork is one of only a handful of Richter's Abstrakte Bilder canvases remaining in private hands, and was part of the artist's own collection, remaining in his studio for several years.
Having been exhibited publically just once in its history, as part of the 'Gerhard Richter: 100 Pictures' show at the Carre d'Art in Nimes, the painting was acquired by its present owner in 1996. It will now be offered at public auction for the first time, with an estimated price of $21m-$30m.
Over half of the monumental abstract artworks produced by Richter during this period (1989-1990) are now owned by museums and institutions. The others have consistently set new records, with the auction record for the artist broken three times in the past four years, and the record price for his abstract paintings broken a remarkable 10 times in the past eight years.
With sales of his paintings regularly topping $20m, Richter is currently considered the world's most valuable living painter. His record stands at $46.4 million, achieved by another Abstrakte Bilder work which sold at Sotheby's in February 2015.
"There continues to be great momentum in the Richter market, particularly for his abstract works," said Isabelle Paagman, Sotheby's senior director of contemporary art.
"This particular example is monolithic and muscular, a masterpiece with a spectacular structure comprised of dramatic layers of a kaleidoscope of colours. With its enviable provenance, it has all the ingredients you'd hope for from a truly great Richter abstract."
Sotheby's London Contemporary Art Evening auction takes place on February 10.
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