Five paintings by Claude Monet go for £84 million in under an hour

In just under an hour, five paintings by the preeminent impressionist Claude Monet went under the hammer at a Sotheby’s for an amazing $84 million (approximately £55 million).
It was a record-breaking few hours at the evening event in London, with sales totalling a breathtaking £186.4 million by the close of proceedings. This is the highest total ever realised at an auction in the capital.
Remarkably, the final tally was close to £50 million more than was estimated by Sotheby’s and once again demonstrates the enthusiasm not just for art, but also for impressionist and modern works.
Monet’s Le Grand Canal, which was executed in 1908, ended up being the most expensive work, eventually going for £23.7 million (and breaking yet another record – it is the most anyone has paid for one of his Venice landscapes).
The other works include Les Peupliers à Giverny (1887), which was at auction for the first time in its history (it went for £10.8 million); L’Embarcadère (1871), which went for £10.3 million; and Antibes vue de la Salis, (1888), which went £8.7 million.
Other notable sales included Henri Matisse’s portrait Odalisque au Fauteuil Noir, which, at £15.8 million, achieved the second highest sale of the evening; and work by the Russian painter Kazimir Malevich, which was featured in the recent retrospective at Tate Modern (it went for £5.8 million).
Helena Newman, co-head of impressionist and modern art worldwide at Sotheby’s, said that the record-breaking evening was reflective of the “quality of the material” on offer.
“The people who came out were serious figures, seasoned collectors, and even new buyers for this really great material, much of which was appearing for the first time ever at auction,” she went on to say.
“We were particularly delighted to have been entrusted with a collection of nine works from a US collector, which included Monet, Matisse and further works, and came to a grand total of £36 million. All together, it is a fantastic result. What is reassuring is that people are as keen and enthusiastic about quality works as ever.”
Last month, artnet revealed in its Annual Auction Results that the art market netted more than $16.1 billion (approximately £10.1 billion) in 2014, which was very close to the post-recession peak of £10.7 billion in 2011.
Post-war and contemporary sales still accounts for most of bonanza sales. In 2014, of the top ten lots that went under the hammer, 70 per cent were from this category, with the remaining 30 per cent coming from impressionist and modern works.
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