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    Monet Lilies Painting Sells for Record $79 Million

    Date: 25 Jun 2008 | | Views: 3735

    Source: Bloomberg, by Scott Reyburn

    A Claude Monet painting of water lilies sold tonight for a record 40.1 million pounds ($79 million) with fees at Christie's International in London.

    Monet's 6-foot, 7-inch-wide canvas, "Le Bassin aux Nympheas", dating from 1919, had been expected to sell for between 18 million pounds and 24 million pounds, said Christie's. The auction house said the seller had been guaranteed an unspecified minimum price.

    The previous auction record for Monet was set in May at Christie's, New York, when the 1873 canvas, "Le Pont du Chemin de Fer a Argenteuil", sold for $41.5 million with fees, according to the saleroom result tracker Artnet.

    "So much for the Impressionist market being dead", said James Roundell, a London art dealer. "If you can get good pictures and price them low, people will buy."

    The Monet picture was the second-most expensive painting sold at a European auction, after the Rubens work "The Massacre of the Innocents" in July 2002, bought by newspaper magnate Ken Thomson for 49.5 million pounds.

    A weak dollar and strong demand from new Russian buyers have encouraged Americans to sell Impressionist works in the U.K. capital. The Monet was part of a group of 17 works entered from the estate of the late J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller, collectors from Columbus, Indiana. Their paintings had not been seen on the market for several decades.

    Front Row

    The Monet work was bought by Canadian-born, London-based art advisor Tania Buckrell Pos, who was sitting in the front row of the auction and taking instructions by telephone from a client. She refused to give her client's name or nationality.

    "It's a truly exceptional piece," she said of the painting. "The market continues to prove that when rare things of quality appear, people will pay."

    Buckrell Pos outbid Brett Gorby, a contemporary-art specialist from Christie's New York, who was also in the room and taking bids via the telephone.

    Christie's said that the Millers had requested that if their works were to be sold in London, the company's U.S.-based honorary chairman and star auctioneer, Christopher Burge, should be on the rostrum.

    Gorby was the successful bidder, with an offer of 13.5 million pounds with fees,, for an Edgar Degas pastel of ballet dancers, "Danseuse a la Barre" (c.1880). It had been owned by the New York collectors Mr. and Mrs. H.O. Havemeyer, who donated many works to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and had been estimated to sell for 4 million pounds to 6 million pounds.

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