An important work by Claude Monet has set a record price at auction. As reported in the New York Times:
The summer auction season here began at Christie’s on Tuesday night when a standing-room-only crowd of dealers, collectors and art lovers came from all over the world to watch and bid on one of the largest London sales the auction house has held. . . .On a summer night in London, one of the rarest of Monet's waterlilies sold for $80.4 million. That price, however, bears no necessary relation to Le Bassin aux Nymphéas. Monet himself approached his waterlilies with no objective in mind besides the pleasure of planting and admiring them: "It took me time to understand my waterlilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them."
A sea of hands shot in the air when . . . Le Bassin aux Nymphéas, which had been expected to sell for $36 million to $47 million, came up on the block. Among at least six would-be buyers, a blond woman in the front row bid tenaciously against several Christie’s representatives on the telephone with clients. When the price hit nearly $70 million, Christopher Burge, Christie’s honorary chairman in the United States and one of the evening’s two auctioneers, leaned over and said to the woman, “Take as long as you like.” The woman, identified as Tania Buckrell Pos of Arts & Management International, a London company, ended up winning the painting on behalf of an unknown client, and the salesroom burst into applause. . . .
Le Bassin aux Nymphéas, from 1919, a large horizontal work measuring more than 3 feet by 6 feet, is from a series of four that Monet signed and dated and that experts consider to be among the most important paintings from his late period. Unlike most of his late works, which remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1926, this series was sold by him. One is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; another was cut in two; and a third is in a private collection, having been sold at Christie’s in New York in 1992 for $12.1 million, a stellar price at the time.
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