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July 28, 2014
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Monet sale leads spring art auctions

Bid takers at work under the Monet painting Nympheas yesterday.

Works from the estates of heiress Huguette Clark, Edgar Bronfman and other major collectors are among the highlights leading the spring art auctions in New York City, including a Monet painting that has been out of the public eye for decades.

The anticipated auction season began last night with the sale of impressionist and modern art at Christie’s, which expects to raise a total of more than US$245 million.

Among the top lots was Claude Monet’s shimmering Water Lilies. The 1907 work of Monet’s beloved garden in Giverny, France, has not been publicly exhibited since 1926 and is estimated to sell for US$25 million to US$35 million. The current Monet auction record is for Water Lily Pond from 1919, which brought US$80.4 million in 2008.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Young Women Playing Badminton is another highlight, expected to sell for US$10 million to US$15 million. His Au Moulin de la Galette holds the auction record for the artist. It sold for US$78 million in 1990.

Both works belonged to Clark, a Montana copper mining heiress who died at 104 in 2011. Her father, US Senator William A. Clark, founded Las Vegas. Christie’s is selling hundreds of items from her collection after a feud over her estate was settled in the fall.

The scene moves to Sotheby’s tonight. The auction house is offering four sculptures and one oil painting by Alberto Giacometti. Leading the selection is the artist’s City Square, a multi-figural sculpture that is estimated to bring US$12 million to US$18 million. Giacometti’s Large Thin Head (Large Head of Diego) a sculptural representation of the artist’s younger brother, brought US$50 million at auction last year. The auction record for any Giacometti work is US$103.9 million.

Among other top lots at Sotheby’s is Henri Matisse’s Morning Session, a 1924 oil of the artist’s assistant, Henriette Darricarrere. It could bring up to US$30 million. The current auction record is US$48.8 million for his Black IV, set in 2010.

Sotheby’s also has three works by Joan Miro that had languished in a vault in New York for 50 years. The Spanish artist created them for the filmmaker and photographer Thomas Bouchard and his daughter Diane. One of the works, Untitled, 1947, depicting colourful anthropomorphic forms on a rich blue background, is estimated at US$4 million to US$6 million.

The other two works are set to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s day sale tomorrow. Sotheby’s expects today’s auction to bring up to a total of $322 million.

Reuters

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