Monet masterpiece sells for nearly £41m

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The most important work from Claude Monet's Waterlilies series to be offered at auction in Europe has sold for nearly £41 million.

Le bassin aux nympheas had been expected to fetch £18 million to £24 million at the auction at Christie's in London.

A spokeswoman for the auction house said it had sold for £40,921,250 including buyer's premium, a world record price for the artist at auction.

The painting - the most expensive work of art yet sold by Christie's in Europe - was bought by an anonymous collector.

Olivier Camu, director and head of impressionist and modern art, Christie's London, said: "Le bassin aux nympheas is a masterpiece painting by Claude Monet.

"We are extremely pleased to have seen this painting attract intense interest from the huge number of people who came to see the work on public exhibition at Christie's in London, New York and Hong Kong, and also the international clients who competed to buy the picture at today's auction.

"After a thrilling bidding battle between a number of clients in the room and on the telephones, the painting eventually sold to an anonymous collector for £41 million, setting a new world record price for the artist at auction, and illustrating continued confidence in the art market."

The painting was signed and dated by the artist in 1919.

Unlike most of Monet's late work, which remained unfinished in the studio when he died, Le bassin aux nympheas was released by the artist during his lifetime.

Of the three other largescale water-lily works, one is in the collection of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, one is in a private collection, and the third was cut in two before the Second World War.

The painting was in the collection of J Irwin Miller, an industrialist from Columbus, Indiana, and his wife, Xenia Simons Miller.

They were major philanthropists and patrons of the arts who turned their US city into a showcase for modern architecture and also cherished art.

Another early highlight of last night's auction was the sale of Danseuses a la barre, an extremely rare early masterpiece in pastel by Edgar Degas (1834-1917), which realised £13,481,250, including buyer's premium, which far exceeded its pre-sale estimate of £4 million to £6 million.