By Helen Cook
New York City, US, May 12 (EFE).- A water lily painting by Claude Monet was the star of the night at a Sotheby’s auction held Wednesday in New York City, where it fetched $70.3 million, substantially exceeding the expectations of experts.
“Le Bassin Aux Nymphéas,” painted between 1917 and 1919 by the French master, is considered one of the most exceptional paintings by Monet to hit the market in recent history, and had been given a value of about $40 million, a figure that was surpassed in the third bid.
Measuring one meter high and two meters wide, the oil painting from the artist’s famous water lily series is part of the revolutionary work of the last years of the Impressionism icon, which inspired the following generations of painters.
A few minutes later, a portrait painted by Pablo Picasso of Françoise Gilot, the artist’s muse and partner for a decade, sold for $18 million, which rose to $20.9 million with fees and taxes.
“Femme Assise en Costume Vert,” a painting that has not been up for auction for 35 years was the clear object of desire of two buyers, one of whom was bidding from Sotheby’s New York headquarters and the other from Hong Kong.
The piece belongs to an exceptional group of paintings that the Spaniard created during the winter of 1952 and the spring of 1953, during the time when Picasso and Gilot lived together with their two children, Claude and Paloma, in France.
In an auction that lasted about four hours, the Haitian-American Jean-Michel Basquiat also stood out. His “Versus Medici,” which was valued between $35-$50 million, sold for $50.8 million, slightly exceeding expectations.
It was the first time that the painting had gone on sale, since it had been painted by Basquiat at age 22 and was bought in 1982, the same year it was executed, by the collector Stephane Janssen, one of the loyal fans of the painter who died in 2020.
In recent years, Basquiat’s popularity has steadily increased among art connoisseurs and billionaires, with $110.5 million paid for “Untitled” (1982) in 2018 at a Sotheby’s auction, the record for his work, while on Tuesday “In This Case” was sold at Christie’s for $93.1 million.
Although at a much more modest price, the “Portrait of Columba Domínguez de Fernández” by Mexican Diego Rivera had a very good reception among collectors, more than doubling the $3 million maximum price that Sotheby’s had expected, going for $7.4 million, making it the second most expensive painting by this artist.
British graffiti artist Banksy’s “Love is in the Air” was the subject of a fierce battle of almost 15 minutes between two buyers bidding from Hong Kong and New York, going for $11 million, or $12.9 million with fees and taxes.
For this particular piece, Sotheby’s accepted payments with the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ether, the first time that a leading art auction house has supported this type of currency. EFE