Monet haystack painting sells for record $81.4m

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A Claude Monet painting, “Meule,” part of his famous grainstack series, sold at auction in New York Wednesday for 81.4 million dollars, a record for the French master, Christie’s said.

The previous record was in June 2008. At the time, “Bassin aux nympheas” (“Water Lilies”) took $ 80.4 million at a sale in London.

The final price, which includes fees and commission, crushed Christie’s pre-sale estimate of $45 million.

The auction lasted nearly fifteen minutes, an unusual length for a sale of this format.

A woman in the room stayed in the running for some time before making a last offer of $53 million and leaving it to buyers being handled over the phone.

This painting, of just one haystack with a conical top, at twilight, is part of the series of grainstacks painted by Monet during the winter of 1890-1891 from his house in Giverny, Normandy.

It is one of the rare works in this series to still be in private hands, Christie’s said.

Most of the others are in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, or the Art Institute of Chicago. This painting was acquired in September 1891 by the Knoedler & Co. art gallery, which brought it to the United States.

In recent years, prices for works by Monet or other celebrated Impressionists have shot through the roof.

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