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Monet's 'Charing Cross Bridge' to lead sale at Sotheby's New York
Claude Monet, Charing Cross Bridge. Estimate: $20/30 million. Courtesy Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s will present a remarkable private collection of Impressionist & Modern masterworks this November in New York, led by Claude Monet’s Charing Cross Bridge – a sumptuous example of the artist’s beloved London pictures, which is estimated to achieve $20/30 million in Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 12 November 2019.

The collection was assembled primarily in the 1970s and 1980s by Andrea Klepetar-Fallek and her then-husband Fred Fallek. Ms. Klepetar-Fallek’s extraordinary life story is one of incomparable resilience, independence and optimism – including her flight from Nazi-occupied Vienna, escape from an Italian concentration camp, and departure from Peronist Argentina.

Acquired in 1977 through Galerie Beyeler, the present Charing Cross Bridge painting has remained in the Klepetar-Fallek Collection for more than 40 years. Monet’s paintings of Charing Cross Bridge rarely appear at auction, making this November’s offering an exciting market event. Sotheby’s achieved a new benchmark price for Monet’s work this May, when an exceptional example of his famed Haystacks pictures sold for $110.7 million.

Also featuring works by Pierre Bonnard, Lyonel Feininger, Jacques Lipchitz, Emil Nolde, Edgar Degas and more, all pieces on offer this season from the Klepetar-Fallek Collection will be on public view at Sotheby’s New York galleries on York Avenue from 1 November through 12 November. The Collection will be offered across both our Evening and Day Sales of Impressionist & Modern Art on 12 & 13 November, respectively.

At 18, the young Andrea Samek and her family were forced to flee their home in Vienna, where they had lived for two decades, to Zagreb, Croatia, following Kristallknacht, the infamous night and day of terror in Germany and Austria that signaled a deadly new phase in the Nazi campaign of Jewish persecution. Following further persecution by the Italians that lead to her imprisonment in a concentration camp on the island of Rab in the north of Dalmatia before Allied liberation, Andrea spent the last year of World War II in Rome, where she was awakened to the power of art for the first time.

She then joined the first wave of European Jews to move to the newly established state of Israel in 1948 with her second husband Buba. A year later, Andrea and Buba relocated to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she finally achieved a degree of stability and peace during the time she lived there. Following the sudden death of her third husband Juan Klepetar, a top executive at Roche, in 1970, and finding life under the Peronists unbearable, Andrea decided to leave Argentina in 1972 and assumed she would never marry again.

In a life filled with many twists and turns, Andrea would find romance again seven years later when she met Fred Fallek, a German Jew and fellow Holocaust survivor. Through Fred’s marriage to his first wife Erica, the two amassed a magnificent collection of paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Renoir and Bonnard. Their daughter, Jane Fallek Nathanson, is now one of Los Angeles’ leading art collectors and philanthropists – she was a founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and currently serves on the board of LACMA.

When Fred and Erica divorced, it was agreed that Erica would keep the collection. Upon Fred’s marriage to Andrea, the newlyweds set about building a new collection together, and decided that for each birthday or anniversary they would give each other a piece of art. The couple quickly immersed themselves in the art world and socialized with major dealers of the time, including Leo Castelli and Ernst Beyeler, from whom they purchased the works by Monet and Bonnard that would become the cornerstones of their collection.

Given to each other as gifts, the paintings, drawings and sculpture in the collection had a deep emotional resonance for the couple, so much so that even after Fred’s passing in 1983 the Monet remained a focal point of the living room, as a reminder of the joy Andrea and Fred’s passion for art brought them.

Auction 12 November 2019

Painted during a series of three trips to London from 1899-1901, Claude Monet’s Charing Cross Bridge (estimate $20/30 million) is part of the French painter’s seminal London series. Throughout these works, the artist captured the juxtaposition of the beauty of natural phenomena, such as fog rolling over the Thames, with the industrial development booming in London at the time, epitomized by smoke stacks and steam powered railways.

Composed from the vantage point of his room at the Savoy Hotel, Monet found the view particularly advantageous in observing the London landscape and onset of the city’s fog. The mutability of the fog, he discovered, proved to be an apt vehicle for capturing scenes of the same subject matter repeatedly, but with differences in color, touch and lighting. Never before had an artist set about on such a project of this scale and scope, and the resultant paintings of Charing Cross Bridge and Monet’s entire London series, with their signature use of evanescent mélanges of color, light and shadow, are among the most quintessential and instantly recognizable Impressionist paintings.

The Klepetar-Fallek Collection also features Pierre Bonnard’s Femme se déshabillant (estimate $1.5/2.5 million), a work of startlingly modern perspective that captures the fleeting moment of the artist’s muse, wife, and primary model for decades, Marthe de Méligny, undressing for a bath. Such fleeting scenes of intimacy abound in Bonnard’s oeuvre. A keen observer of daily life and quotidian ritual, Bonnard preferred to paint from sketches, memory and imagination, rather than directly from life. First painted circa 1908 and enlivened by the artist around 1930, Femme se déshabillant stands as one of the artist’s most emblematic portraits of Marthe. Set within a dreamy, voyeuristic setting, the work remains a quietly passionate and utterly modern portrait.

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