Zoom Image

An employee of the Sotheby's auction house looks at the painting »4096 Farben« (1974) by the German artist Gerhard Richter

Photo: --- / dpa

The painting »4096 Colors« by the German painter Gerhard Richter has been auctioned in New York for 21.8 million dollars (about 20.3 million euros). This was announced by the auction house Sotheby's at the traditional spring auctions on its website. This last painting of the coveted color plate series from 1974 was also an inspiration for the artist's magnificent window in Cologne Cathedral, a spokeswoman said before the auction.

Zoom Image

The German artist Gerhard Richter was born in Dresden in 1932

Photo: Rolf Vennenbernd / picture alliance / dpa

Richter came up with the idea of the colour plates when he was looking at colour sample cards in a Düsseldorf paint shop. It occurred to him that these were actually perfect pictures. So he simply painted the color plates, but he always coordinated the different color fields differently. Between 1966 and 1974 he painted three different series of such panels, each of which increased in complexity and color.

In October, Richter's work "192 Colors" was auctioned at Sotheby's in London for the equivalent of 20.9 million euros. 4096 Farben« has been exhibited in Chicago, San Francisco, London's Tate Modern and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, among others. The 91-year-old judge is one of the most expensive and influential living artists in the world.

In total, Sotheby's – as well as major competitors such as Christie's – is bringing hundreds of works by major artists under the hammer in May. For example, a spider sculpture created in 1996 and around three meters high by the French-American artist Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) has already been sold for a "record-breaking" 32.8 million dollars (approx. 30.3 million euros), according to the auction house.

Competitor Christie's brought in a total of around $922 million in the spring auctions this year, the auction house announced. The most expensive work was the painting »El Gran Espectaculo (The Nile)« by the US artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988), which was sold for around 67 million dollars after a five-minute bidding competition.