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Millions for Monet’s misty masterpiece

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French painter Claude Monet’s 1903 work Charing Cross Bridge was sold for $27.6 million (more than R390m) at Sotheby’s sale of Impressionist and modern art in New York late last year.

The painting had the evening’s highest pre-sale estimate – $20m to $30m – and it was eventually hammered down for $27.6m. Although the final price was substantially below Monet’s $110.7m auction record, Sotheby’s noted afterwards that it amounted to an auction record for this particular Monet subject matter. 

The painting had for about 40 years been part of a private collection started in the 1970s and 1980s and this was its first appearance on auction. Sotheby’s sold nine acclaimed Monet works last year for a total of $292m.

Charing Cross Bridge is a series of oil paintings completed between 1899 and 1904, showing a misty, impressionistic Charing Cross Bridge in London.

The bridge paintings are owned by collections around the world. One of them was stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam in 2012 and is believed to have been burnt in an oven by the mother of one of the thieves in an act that must have sent any potential Oedipal feelings up in flames.

Monet was a founder of French Impressionist painting and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement’s philosophy. He died of lung cancer on December 5, 1926 at the age of 86 and is buried in the Giverny church cemetery.


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