Georgina Adam tries to answer the big question raised this weekend when Gerhard Richter’s painting made a record price last Friday for a living artist. The question is more acute because of the 40% rise in Richter’s record price in only a season. Adam tells us a few things that are more speculation than explanation. It is assumed that the abstracts lead Richter’s market—even if they don’t lead his oeuvre—because of their large number, abstract nature and broad collecting base.
This last point seems to be the most crucial because Sotheby’s buyer is speculated to be Russian. What no one has been able to explain is the the process by which Richter went from being a ‘European’ artist to becoming a global “brand” with broad cache like Andy Warhol.
Here’s Adam on the underpinnings of Richter’s market:
Richter’s late, abstract works are particularly sought after because of their broad appeal: colourful abstracts which can fit into any interior, cannot offend anyone (unlike some of his tougher earlier works which deal with death or politics) and are recognizable trophies which give the owner immense bragging rights. […]
Add to this a career carefully managed by long-term American dealer Marian Goodman, and by the artist himself, who maintains a detailed website [note: according to Kelly Crow’s excellent WSJ piece this site is maintained by a someone else, not Richter or his dealer] enabling prospective buyers to identify all his work and its sale history – something that has particular appeal to those with investment interest.
Finally, his market is global: buyers come from all over, from South Korea or Brazil as well as from the US, which has a solid appetite for his work.
Why is Gerhard Richter Worth £21m? (The Telegraph)