LONDON.- Claude Monets Nymphéas of 1904, a ground-breaking work and one of the finest of Monets famous waterlily series ever to have come to the market, tonight realised £18,500,000 ($36,724,350) at Sothebys in London. No fewer than eight determined bidders drove the price from £8 million up to the final figure, when the hammer fell to a private Asian collector bidding over the telephone. This was the second highest price ever achieved for a work by the artist at auction. (The previous record of £19.8 ($33 million) was achieved for Bassin aux Nymphéas of 1900 at Sothebys London in 1998).
The Monet was the top lot in a sale which realised £80,395,200 ($159,592,512) the third highest total for a sale of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sothebys London. The sale also set a benchmark in terms of the average lot price realised in any single session: the average lot price of £2.17 million is unprecedented in any auction ever held in London.
The second highest price in the sale was achieved for Henri Matisses Danseuse dans le fauteuil, sol en damier of 1942, which achieved £10,996,000 / $21,828,160 - a new record price for the artists work at auction. Estimated at £8-12 million, the work eclipsed the previous record of £10,015,704 ($18.48 million) achieved at Sothebys New York last Spring. A remarkably strident work, in which the sinuous shape of the model acts as a foil to the strong, geometric patterns of the setting, the painting attracted heated bidding from four determined bidders, finally selling to a private European collector, also bidding on the phone. When the work last appeared at Sothebys London in June 2000, it sold for £4.9 million.
Melanie Clore, Co-Chairman of Sothebys Impressionist and Modern Department Worldwide, said: We are extremely pleased with the results of tonights sale: Monets Nymphéas of 1904 achieved the highest price for the Impressionist and Modern art sales this week in London. The geographical range of tonights bidding was extraordinary: bidding came from Asia, Russia, the UK and the US. With 50% of lots selling over high estimate, tonights results are indicative of a very healthy market.
Further notable aspects of tonights sale included:
Over 50% of works sold tonight realised prices in excess of their high estimate.
Three new artists records were achieved: for works by Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, Laszlo Moholy Nagy. In addition, a medium record was set for Franz Marc (record for a work on paper)
The sale attracted large crowds, over 500 people: tickets for seats were oversubscribed despite the addition of two auxiliary auction rooms (each with an additional auctioneer relaying bids into the main auction room) were set up to accommodate overflow.
An unprecedented number of telephone bids were registered: 40 telephone lines were installed in the room with almost every work carrying multiple telephone bids
5 works were sold for over £4 million, 17 works were sold for over £1 million, 31 works were sold for over $1 million
Further remarkable results were achieved for:
A rare life-time bronze cast by Auguste Rodin - Iris, Messagère des dieux realised £4,612,000 ($9,155,281) - against an estimate of £400,000-600,000. The price was not only ten times the presale estimate, but also exceeded the previous record of £2.9 million ($4,842,500) by a wide margin. Only one other life-time cast of this figure has ever appeared on the market before, and the rarity of this particular figure (which came to sale from the Larry and Leah Superstein collection) proved highly attractive to the determined bidders who pursued it to its final price.
The £4,164,000 achieved for Amedeo Modiglianis Jeune Femme (Totote de la Gaîté) of circa 1917 - one of the artists late portraits which rank among the most refined and accomplished works in his oeuvre which are notable for the depth of their emotional and psychological intensity
Another work by Monet, Camille à lOmbrelle Verte a charming painting dated 1876 depicting Monets wife in the family garden at Argenteuil sold for £4,164,000 against an estimate of £2.5 3.5 million
The £3,268,000 / $6,487,307 for Pierre-Auguste Renoirs Réflexion of 1877 (est: £2.53.5 million) - an exquisite example of the artists work dating from the height of his Impressionist period.
A number of works outstripped their pre-sale estimates by a wide margin. These included - Alberto Giacomettis Buste de Diego - a bronze of the artists brother - sold for £2.14 million ($4,263,995) against an estimate of £1.5 2 million. - Pablo Picassos Tete dHomme of 1969 sold for: £2,260,000 against an estimate of £800,000-1,200,000 - Paul Gauguins Bouquet et Ceramique, 1886, sold for : £2,484,000, against an estimate of:£1,000,000-1,500,000 - Pablo Picassos Peintre Sold for: £3,268,000 against an estimate of £2,200,000-2,800,000.
A vibrant, powerful work by Alexej von Jawlensky - Die Sinnende (The Thinking Woman) of circa 1912 made £2,148,000/ 4,263,995
US consignments accounted for a high proportion of the proceeds: 33% by lot compared to 16% by lot in February 2006. In particular, the four works from the collection of Californian collectors and philanthropists Larry and Leah Superstein realised £9,712,000 nearly three times the low estimate for the group of £3.4 million
News buyers were out in force with a high proportion of lots selling to buyers new to the category.
Henri Matisse Danseuse dans le fauteuil, 1942. Estimate : £8,000,000 12,000,000. Sold for : £10,996,000 ($21,828,160).
Auguste Rodin Iris, Messagère des Dieux. Estimate: £400,-000-600,000. Sold for : £4,612,000 ($9,155,281)
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy - Z IV, 1923. Estimate: £600,000 800,000. Sold for: £804,000 ($1,596,020).
Record for an artist at auction by MEDIUM: Franz Marc - Fabeltier II (Pferd), 1913. Estimate : £1,200,000 1,600,000. Sold for: £1,364,000 ($2,707,676).