Gustav Klimt's 'Bauerngarten' sells for $59.3m
A painting by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt has become the third most expensive artwork ever sold at auction in Europe.
"Bauerngarten," Gustav Klimt's exuberant 1907 oil painting of a garden filled with poppies, daisies and other flowers, sold for $59.3m (£48m) during a Sotheby's evening auction of Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist works in London on Wednesday -- a record auction price for a landscape by the artist.
Billed by Sotheby's as "one of the greatest works by the artist ever to appear at auction," "Bauerngarten" had remained in a private collection since 1994, most recently going on display in 2016 at the Royal Academy of Art London's "Painting the Modern Garden" exhibition.
The only works that have sold for more money in London are Alberto Giacometti's "Walking Man," which sold for $104.3m (£65m) in 2010, and Peter Paul Rubens' "The Massacre of the Innocents," which sold for $76.7m (£49.5m) in 2002.
Other highlights during Sotheby's evening auction included the sale of Pablo Picasso's 1944 "Plant de Tomates," a painting of a tomato plant defiantly growing on the windowsill of his apartment during the Nazi occupation of Paris. The work came to signify hope and wartime resistance.
Having resided in a private collection for four decades, the work sold for $21.1m (£17m), above the top end of its estimate and marking an auction record for a still-life by the Spanish artist.
Eight works by Picasso were sold over the course of the evening for a total of $67.7m (£54.7m) with three topping $12.3m (£10m).
Meanwhile, "Effet de neige à Louveciennes," a winter scene by Arthur Sisley, sold for $9.1m (£7.4m) -- setting an auction record for a work by the impressionist landscape painter.
Sales overall totaled at $240.8m (£194.7m) -- an increase of 108% on the equivalent sale last year, marking a buoyant return to form for the global art market, after a difficult 2016.
Helena Newman, global co-head of Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Department and chairman of Sotheby's Europe, described the evening's results as a new benchmark for London sales and "a statement on the momentum of the global art market in 2017."