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Painting owned by Eric Clapton sells for record $33.5M

A Gerhard Richter painting owned by musician Eric Clapton has sold for $33.5 million, reportedly setting an auction record for a work by a living artist.

Previous record set by Jasper Johns's Flag, which sold for $28.6 million

A Gerhard Richter painting owned by musician Eric Clapton has sold for $33.5 million and has reportedly set an auction record for a work by a living artist.

Richter, 80, lives in Cologne, Germany and created Abstraktes Bild in 1994. It has been described as a "masterpiece of calculated chaos." 

The auction price knocked the previous record set by Jasper Johns's Flag, which sold for $28.6 million at Christie's two years ago.

Sotheby's auction house says it sold to an anonymous buyer Friday in London, ending a more than five-minute bidding competition between two telephone buyers.

The 1994 abstract oil on canvas piece from guitarist Clapton's collection was expected to sell for between $14 million and $19 million.

Friday's sale handily beat Richter's previous auction record of $21.9 million set in May in New York with the sale of his Abstract Picture (7938-3).

Clapton — who made his milllions as a member of several famous rock bands, and as a solo artist with hits such as Layla, After Midnight and Tears in Heaven — is a well-known art collector. Early in his youth, he completed a year at a British art school.

The 67-year-old guitarist bought the work in New York in 2001 for $3.3 million.