Archive, Exhibitions & Events, Fine Art, Old Masters

Claude Monet's 'Le bassin aux nymphéas' fetched USD 74,010,000 during an exceptional evening sale at Christie's New York, 9 November 2023.

Claude Monet (France, 1840-1926)
Le bassin aux nymphéas
stamped with signature 'Claude Monet' (Lugt 1819b; lower right); stamped again with signature ‘Claude Monet’ (Lugt 1819b; on the reverse)
oil on canvas
100.1 x 200.6 cm. (39 3⁄8 x 78 7⁄8 in.)
Painted circa 1917-1919

Price Realised USD 74,010,000 at Christie’s New York, 9 November 2023

In New York, a flurry of record bids, including a Monet sold for $74 million pledged by Christie's and its rival Sotheby's topped the billion-dollar mark in less than a week.

Christie's, owned by French billionaire François Pinault's holding company Artémis, and its rival Sotheby's, owned by French-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, are in the middle of their autumn auction season until November 15. And both houses are hoping to break records by grossing billions of dollars.

French Impressionist painter Claude Monet's masterpiece 'Le Bassin aux nymphéas' sold for $74 million at Christie's in New York on Thursday. Sotheby's, which on Wednesday evening sold a Picasso (Femme à la montre, 1932) for $139 million, the second most expensive work by the Spanish master who died in 1973, has already achieved more than $400 million in auction sales this week. Christie's is at $748 million, including $640 million on Thursday evening.

Pablo Picasso's 1932 masterwork 'Femme à la montre' (Woman with a Watch) fetched over USD 139,000,000 at Sotheby's New York, 8 November 2023.

This is a record sum since 2017 accumulated in a single evening of sales of works of art belonging to different collectors, Christie's boasted in a statement.

The highlight of the evening, Claude Monet's Le Bassin aux nymphéas (1917-1919), estimated at $65 million, went for $74 million under the hammer of Christie's star auctioneer, the house's international president, Jussi Pylkkänen, whose last appearance at the Rockefeller Center headquarters in Manhattan.

The executive, who had announced he was leaving after a career spanning four decades, received a standing ovation from wealthy collectors and art lovers in a crowded, ultra-chic room, typical of these New York soirees.

Three paintings by Paul Cézanne, including Fruits et pot de gingembre, which fetched nearly $39 million, were sold to benefit the Langmatt Museum in Baden, Switzerland, according to Christie's. "The sale, a last-chance solution, was a painful step for us," admitted Markus Stegmann, director of the financially troubled museum, in a statement.

Thanks to the proceeds of the sale, the museum's future is assured, and "as a result, the foundation and the museum management are relieved", says a press release from the Langmatt, which boasts a collection of some 50 remarkable works by Gauguin, Renoir, Pissarro, Monet, Sisley, Degas and Cassatt. It also has six works by Cézanne.

Other individual records were broken on Thursday evening: 20th-century American Expressionist painter Richard Diebenkorn's Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad sold for $46 million, and Untitled, by his compatriot Joan Mitchell, for $29 million.

Against a backdrop of international crises, auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's are delighted with the bold health of the art and luxury market, driven by Asia, in particular China, and with "no indication" of a slowdown after an exceptional 2022 vintage, with cumulative sales of over $16 billion.