Sotheby's had been forecasting a price between dollars 10m and dollars 15m for the painting, Nature Morte - Les Grosses Pommes, but its sale price makes it the world's tenth most expensive painting sold at auction.
The owner, George Embiricos, a Greek shipping magnate who lives in Lausanne, did not want to sell the painting at auction, but had failed to attract a bid of even half the auction price when trying to sell it privately.
According to a reliable source in New York, the buyer at Tuesday night's auction was another Greek shipowner, Stavros Niarchos, now in his eighties and almost blind but the possessor of a great private collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist pictures.
The sale had two other stars, a large portrait by Matisse of La Mulatresse Fatma painted in Tangier in 1912 and a Renoir garden scene of 1873, a vista that he and Monet painted side-by-side. The Matisse, from a Swiss collection and the renowned Basel art dealer Ernst Beyeler sold for dollars 14,302,500 (pounds 9.2m), again to an anonymous telephone bidder.
The charming Renoir, Femmes dans un Jardin, depicting a path through a sunlit garden with a lady with a parasol at the end of it, was said to belong to a member of the Chrysler family. It went for dollars 6,712,500 (pounds 4.3m) to an anonymous telephone bid.
The rest of the sale did not do so well. More than a third of the paintings, 20 out of 56, failed to find buyers.Reuse content