This is shaping up to be a pretty good week for the art world. First, an Edvard Munch painting sold at Sotheby’s for $54 million, the second-most expensive price ever achieved for one of his works. And now, a painting by Claude Monet just fetched a whopping $81.4 million at Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art sale last night, beating the artist’s previous record.
Unlike the Munch work, which had been previously purchased by a third-party and received no further bids from the room, the Monet painting was the subject of an intense, 14-minute bidding war. The painting, “Meule,” was completed in 1891 and was one of the artist’s last works in his “Grainstack” series. The previous record price for a Monet was set in 2008 at Christie’s London, when one of his works sold for $80.4 million.
There was also a record set last night for a work by Wassily Kandinsky; his “Rigide et Courbé” painting went for more than $23 million.
In total, the sale made $246,344,500, bringing Christie’s total sales for the week up to $584 million (and the week’s not even over yet!). This is the most money the Impressionist sale has made since 2014.
The reason why Impressionism performed so well last night might very well be that there are less and less paintings to buy. As Brooke Lampley, head of the Impressionist Department at Christie’s, put it in a statement. “The market is motivated by the quality of material that’s available, and with Impressionism, the highest quality is getting more and more scarce.”