The Water Lily Pond, a painting by French impressionist painter Claude Monet, was sold at auction for $74 million on Thursday, November 9 in New York. The sale took place during an exceptional evening at Christie's which achieved $640 million in sales.
Christie's, owned by the Artémis holding of French billionaire François Pinault, and its competitor Sotheby's, which belongs to Franco-Israeli billionaire Patrick Drahi, are in the middle of the fall auction season, from November 7 to 15. The two houses hope to break records and generate billions of dollars. Sotheby's, which sold a Picasso (Woman with a Watch - 1932) on Wednesday evening for $139 million - the second most expensive work for the Spanish master who died in 1973 - is already at more than $400 million in sales at the auction this week. Christie's is at 748 million, including 640 on Thursday evening alone. Since 2017, this is a record sum accumulated in a single evening of sales of works of art belonging to different collectors, Christie's welcomed in a press release.
The highlight of the evening, Le Bassin aux nymphéas (1917-1919) by Claude Monet, estimated at 65 million dollars, went for 74 million under the hammer of the star auctioneer of Christie's, the international president of the house, Jussi Pylkkänen, whose last appearance was at the Rockeffeler Center headquarters in Manhattan. The director, who had announced that he was leaving after four decades of career, was applauded standing by wealthy collectors and art lovers in a crowded and ultra-chic room, typical of these New York evenings.
Three paintings by Paul Cézanne, including Fruits and a Pot of Ginger sold for nearly $39 million, were sold for the benefit of the Langmatt Museum in Baden, Switzerland, according to Christie's. “The sale, a last-ditch solution, was a painful step for us,” admitted Markus Stegmann, the director of this museum which found itself in great financial difficulty, in a press release. Thanks to the amount of the sale, the future of the museum is assured, "consequently, the foundation and management of the museum are relieved", specifies a press release from the Langmatt, which has a collection of around fifty remarkable works by Gauguin, Renoir, Pissarro, Monet, Sisley, Degas and Cassatt. He also has six works by Cézanne remaining.
Other individual records were broken on Thursday evening: 20th-century American expressionist painter Richard Diebenkornn's work, Recollections of a Visit to Leningrad, sold for $46 million and Untitled, by his compatriot Joan Mitchell, went for 29 million. In a context of international crises, the auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's are delighted with an art and luxury market in excellent health, driven by China and Asia, and "with no indication" of a slowdown after an exceptional 2022 vintage, with more than $16 billion in cumulative sales.