Monet fetches over $43m at auction

Thu, Nov 8, 2012, 00:00

A Claude Monet painting has sold for over $43 million (€34m) at auction in New York.

Christie’s estimated Nymphéas would fetch somewhere between €30m and $50m, with the winning bidder, an anonymous American collector, eventually paying $43,762,500.

According to the auction lot notes, the painting dates to the beginning of the impressionist’s enormously fertile water-lily period.

Nymphéas, the notes say, “is part of an important subset of canvases from 1905-1907, which are characterized by large, horizontally striated islands of lilies, juxtaposed with undulating, vertical reflections of trees and sky.”

The piece featured in a 1909 show at the Galerie Durand-Ruel gallery, when, the lot notes continue, the correspondent for Burlington Magazine proclaimed, "One has never seen anything like it. These studies of water lilies and still water in every possible effect of light and at every hour of the day are beautiful to a degree which one can hardly express without seeming to exaggerate."

But according to Reuters 30 per cent of the 69 works on auction failed to sell when bids failed to reach the reserve, the secret price at which a client has agreed to sell a work.

Among casualties was a Picasso sculpture, "Coq," estimated at $10 million to $15 million, and works by Chagall and Degas, the latter estimated to sell for as much as $10 million.

In all the auction took in a total of just under $205 million, missing the low pre-sale estimate of about $210 million (estimates do not include commission charges of about 12 percent). The high estimate was about $315 million.

Proceeds from the Monet sale will benefit a private prep school in Tarrytown, N.Y., which received the work in a bequest.

The auctions continue on Thursday when Sotheby's holds its sale of Impressionist and modern art, which it postponed from Monday due to Superstorm Sandy which hit the region last week.

Additional reporting: Reuters