While his pre-war paintings owed much to Picasso and the Expressionists, after 1945 he devoted himself exclusively to highly colourful abstract works. In 1954 he painted his first Scheibenbilder (Disc Paintings), which were to become central to his oeuvre.
On November 30 Grisebach (25% buyer’s premium) had high hopes for his monumental, 6ft 2in x 11ft 2in (1.89 x 3.41m) canvas Chromatische Scheiben (Chromatic Discs) from 1960. Even though bidding stopped at the lower estimate of €800,000 (£707,965), this was close to double the previous record which had stood since 1991.
This top mark was soon to be overshadowed: Nay’s Scheiben und Halbscheiben (Disc and Half-Discs), offered by Ketterer Kunst (25% buyer’s premium) in Munich on December 9, was a prime example of his earliest disc-paintings, dated 1955. In that year it was exhibited in Hanover and purchased by the Pelikan Collection, the museum run by a German manufacturer of fountain pens. In 1985 the museum consigned it for auction and it found its way into a Hamburg collection, where it remained until consigned to auction.
Ketterer had estimated the 3ft 11in x 5ft 3in (1.2 x 1.61m) canvas at €250,000-350,000. In a long bidding match between 10 mainly Swiss and German bidders on the phones, which began at €200,000, the price went into seven figures and the hammer fell at €1.85m (£1.64m).
The buyer was an international collector.