A new record has been set for a work sold by a living European artist following an anonymous US buyer’s purchase of an oil-on-canvas work entitled Abstraktes Bild  by the German painter Gerhard Richter.

Abstraktes Bild was executed in 1986 and was auctioned at Sotheby’s in London, where the final sum, £30.m (over €40m) well exceeded its £14m-to-£20m estimate. The painting is 9 feet 10 inches in length and 8 feet 2 inches in width.

The auctioneers described it as “one of the largest abstract paintings by the artist and certainly one of his most chromatically astounding.” There was intense interest in the painting because it is one of Richter’s biggest works and also one of his own personal favourites.

The canvas is the product of Richter’s continual build-up of layers of paint, which is drawn away with a piece of wood to produce the colourful, multi-layered finish. Richter had personally asked that the painting go on extended loan to the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, during the 1990s.

A Francis Bacon self-portrait also went under the hammer for £14.7m, 41 times more than the price it achieved the last time it appeared at auction in 1993. The painting, Two Studies for Self-Portrait, was painted by the Irish artist in 1977.