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Impressionist paintings bring in millions at Christie's auction

November 9, 1999
Web posted at: 12:16 a.m. EST (0516 GMT)

Monet's 'Waterlillies' sold for $22.6 million  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A pair of paintings brought in $38 million for sellers at Christie's on Monday evening, the highlight of the auction house's biannual sale of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.

The entire auction grossed $88.2 million.

The most expensive item of the evening was one of Claude Monet's "Waterlillies" paintings, "Nympheas," which sold for $22.6 million, the third-highest price ever paid at auction for a Monet -- and well above the pre-sale estimate of $15 million.

Monet painted the oil on canvas of his pond in Giverny, France in 1906, an early date for his series of "Waterlillies" paintings. The record price for a Monet painting was set last year, when a different "Waterlillies" painting sold for $33 million at Sotheby's in London.

Earlier, Vincent Van Gogh's "The Bridge of Trinquetaille," an oil on canvas completed in 1888, sold for $15.4 million. Only nine Van Gogh's have sold for a higher price.

The sale represented quite a gain on the $1.5 million purchase price of 1980, when the current seller bought it, but it still sold for below Christie's pre-sale estimate of $20 million.

'Bridge of Trinquetaille'
Van Gogh's "The Bridge of Trinquetaille" sold for $15.4 million  

The painting depicts the iron bridge that connected the town of Trinquetaille with Arles, where Van Gogh painted the piece and some of his other most memorable works.

The buyers of the Monet and Van Gogh works were not immediately disclosed.

Another highlight was the record price achieved for the work of sculptor Auguste Rodin. His bronze statue, "Eve," cast in 1897, sold for $4.8 million.

What had been expected to be the third most expensive painting of the evening -- an early work by Paul Cezanne, "The Banquet of Nebuchadnezzar" (c.1870) -- did not sell. The bidding reached $5.5 million, below the pre-sale estimate of $7-$10 million, and below the reserve price guaranteed to the seller.

The prices paid include commissions for Christie's.

More Impressionist works will be on the auction block across town at Sotheby's later this week.

CNN's Phil Hirschkorn contributed to this report.

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