Hong Kong – A collection of French artist Claude Monet’s personal belongings, including a pair of round-rimmed wire spectacles, have fetched almost US$11 million at an auction in Hong Kong, Christie’s said.
The dainty glasses, made from gold-coloured metal, went to an unnamed Asian buyer on Sunday for US$51,457, far exceeding the auction house’s estimate of US$1,000 to US$1,500.
The sale included other rare items like Monet’s pencil sketches, paintings and Japanese woodblock prints from the French master’s personal collection.
A sculpture of a cat from 19th century Japan’s late Edo or early Meiji period, sleeping curled up and measuring 32.8 centimetres (12.9 inches), went under the hammer for US$67,538.
“This collection provides an intimate insight into the life of Monet the artist and Monet the collector,” said Adrien Meyer, co-chairman of the Impressionist and Modern art department at Christie’s.
The top lots sold for well above their estimated price.
An oil painting of a cliff face overlooking the sea by Monet, titled “Falaises des Petites-Dalles”, went for US$4.6 million. Another landscape, “Trois arbres a Giverny (Peupliers)”, fetched US$4 million.
Over 75 per cent of the lot — which went for a combined US$10.99 million — was snapped up by Asian buyers. Hong Kong’s auction houses are well-known for feverish bidding, particularly by wealthy Chinese collectors.
Monet’s artworks have broken world auction records.
The painting “Meule”, from his famous grainstack series, sold in New York last year for US$81.4 million, a record for the French master, Christie’s said at the time.
The previous record was set in June 2008, when “Water Lilies” took US$80.4 million at a Christie’s sale in London.
One of Monet’s early works — pencil sketches of sailboats on paper when he was a teenager — was sold for a relatively modest US$136,685 in Hong Kong on Sunday.