Richter’s photo-painting “Domplatz, Mailand” (Cathedral Square, Milan) sold for $37.1 million at Tuesday’s sale. Tobias Meyer of Sotheby’s called the price “a major accomplishment”.
81-year old Richter also held the previous record for the top price fetched at auction by a living artist. His abstract painting, “Abstraktes Bild”, sold for £21.3m in 2012.
Sotheby’s described “Domplatz, Mailand”, which depicts a cityscape painted in a style that suggests a blurred photograph, as a “masterpiece of 20th Century art” and the “epitome” of the artist’s 1960s photo-painting canon.
The price achieved was more than 10 times as much as the then-record $3.5m it commanded at Sotheby’s in London 15 years ago.
Don Bryant, founder of Napa Valley’s Bryant Family Vineyard and the painting’s new owner, said the work “just knocks me over”.
“Onement VI”, a 1953 work by abstract expressionist painter Barnett Newman, set a new record for the US artist after selling for $43.8m.
However, a Francis Bacon work that had been estimated to sell for as much as $40m failed to attract a buyer.