German Artist Gerhard Richter Will Sell Over €1 Million of His Art to Help the Homeless

Gerhard Richter, Cage VI
Gerhard Richter, Cage VI | Courtesy of fiftyfifty
86-year-old German artist Gerhard Richter will sell 18 paintings totalling over €1 million to aid in the construction of 100 permanent structures being built to house the homeless population of Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia region, an area that encompasses Düsseldorf and Cologne.

The artworks are a hand-signed special edition of colour offset prints made in 2015 and are part of a series entitled ‘Cage f.ff’. They are being offered as three sets of six – each set priced at €420,000 – by fiftyfifty, a gallery known for its charitable endeavours. The works can also be bid on individually through the gallery’s website.

Gerhard Richter, Cage II Courtesy of fiftyfifty

Proceeds of the sale, which is slated to generate €1–€1.2 million, will go directly to the Housing First Fund, an organisation launched by fiftyfifty in 2014 with the mission to provide permanent housing options for Düsseldorf’s homeless. This generous donation by Germany’s most valuable and most famous living artist, will be supplemented by €424,000 in state funding. The project is also being supported by Parity NRW.

Since its inception in 2014, fiftyfifty has been buying real estate units in the Düsseldorf area to rent to the homeless population, even aiding them in purchasing furniture. The group now wants to expand their project outside the city, and Richter is on board to help.

Gerhard Richter, Cage III Courtesy of fiftyfifty

‘Years ago, we explained the concept for housing the homeless to Richter,’ explains the head of the Housing First initiative Julia von Lindern. ‘Right away, he was sure that it could work and the benefit of the sale of his works could and should be spent on the apartment project. That was the beginning. Now we are trying to transform that idea around the larger region.’

Richter, who’s net worth was valued at €700 million in 2017, has a history of donating art to charitable causes. In the past year alone, he announced he would gift his ‘Birkenau’ series to the German Reichstag and donated an artwork to a memorial in Germany’s Free State of Saxony dedicated to the victims of Nazi persecution. This is not the artist’s first time collaborating with fifityfity either – he previously donated to the Housing First project in 2015. Other world-renowned artists who have have been involved with Housing First include Jeff Koons and Andreas Gursky.

Gerhard Richter, Cage VI Courtesy of fiftyfifty

Culture Trip spoke to Mona Monsieur on fiftyfifty’s media team to find out more about the artworks Richter is selling this time around. ‘They are 90 x 90 centimetre offset prints on Alu-Dibond and are covered with acrylic glass. On the back they are signed and numbered by the artist,’ she explains. ‘The images are based on photographs Richter took from his abstract oil paintings ‘Cage’ 1-6. This special edition was made for fiftyfifty and that’s why it’s called ‘Cage f.ff.’.

Gerhard Richter, Cage IV Courtesy of fiftyfifty

In total, Richter created five sets of ‘cage f.ff.’ prints for the gallery. Mona tells us that sales of three of the five will benefit Housing First and the remaining two will help fund other homeless projects run by the gallery.