An abstract painting by the famed German artist Gerhard Richter, was sold at auction yesterday for a record-breaking price after a telephone bidding war ended in the piece, called Abstraktes Bild, being sold for just over £21 million, making it the most expensive Richter painting to be sold at auction to date.

The painting had belonged to guitarist Eric Clapton and was expected to reach around £9-12 million when first put under the gavel. However, after a telephone bidding war that lasted five minutes, the price shot up to £21,321,250 when it was sold a Sotheby’s on Friday (October 12th) afternoon. .

The record price for a Richter painting had been £13 million until yesterday’s auction, after another private collection was sold in May this year at a New York auction house.

Alex Branczik, the senior director of contemporary art at Sotheby's Auction House, said before the auction that the painting “is one of the great abstract masterpieces by Gerhard Richter, and its appearance on the market presents collectors with the unique opportunity to acquire an outstanding work by one of the greatest living painters."

Richter, now 80, is still an active artist and regularly produces new works from his Cologne studio as well as producing photographs too. He still works on figurative and abstract works of art, like the one that was sold yesterday.