A Sotheby's employee in London displays Water Lilies (Nympheas) by Claude Monet. The 1906 painting sold for £31.7 million (HK$418 million) to an anonymous bidder on Monday at a London sale, the second-highest sum on record paid for a work by the French artist.
The instantly recognisable Impressionist masterpiece once belonged to the French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel and remained in his personal collection throughout his life.
It has since been displayed in the world's top galleries, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Musee National d'Art Moderne in Paris.
Pool of Water Lilies ( Le Bassin aux Nympheas), from the same series, still holds the record for a Monet painting sold at auction, fetching US$80.3 million at Christie's in London in 2008.
Also sold at Sotheby's Impressionist and modern art sale was Composition with Red, Blue and Grey by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, which also achieved the second-highest price ever paid for one of his works at auction.
The 1927 piece, which went for £15.2 million, features a distinctive prime colour combination and is unusually large.
It once belonged to renowned dealer and collector Ernst Beyeler and has been included in some of the most important retrospective exhibitions of Mondrian's work.
Helena Newman, Sotheby's co-director of Impressionist and modern art, explained: "At the core of the sale this evening was a significant group of works from private and estate collections, which were met with great enthusiasm and drove global bidding throughout the auction, with notable participation from Asian and Russian collectors." Photo: AFP