Monet painting sold for record $41-million

May 6, 2008 6:54:44 PM PDT
A Claude Monet painting of a bridge with two trains passing over the Seine while pleasure boats float below was auctioned Tuesday for more than $41 million, breaking the auction record for the French impressionist artist. "Le Pont du chemin de fer a Argenteuil" was sold at Christie's impressionist and modern art sale for $41,481,000, said Rik Pike, a spokesman for the auction house.

The previous record for a Monet painting was $36.5 million for his 1904 "Nympheas," which was sold last year.

Christie's said the buyer wanted to remain anonymous.

The auction house didn't identify the seller either but reports have said it was the Nahmads, a family of art dealers with galleries in New York and London.

The sale price, which included the buyer's premium, exceeded the pre-auction estimate of $35 million to $40 million, Pike said.

Argenteuil was a center for pleasure boating among affluent Parisians and a popular subject for many impressionist artists. Monet, who rented a house near the cast-iron railway bridge, painted the work in 1873.

The painting in hues of blue conveys "an idealistic view of the calm union of the old and the new, the rural and the industrial, of work and of pleasure," Christie's said.

A second Monet painting from the "Nympheas" series, painted in 1908, was sold to an anonymous bidder for $11,689,000, said Christie's spokesman Toby Usnik.