* Water Lilies hits second highest auction price for Monet
* Auction nets just under 122 million pounds (US$208
* Global hunt for "trophy art" continues -Sotheby's
By Michael Roddy
LONDON, June 23 A Claude Monet painting of water
lilies sold for almost 32 million pounds (US$55 million) at
auction in London on Monday, the second highest price ever paid
for the artist at auction and confirming the global hunt is
still on for "trophy paintings", Sotheby's said.
The auction of 46 modern and impressionist works, of which
four did not meet reserve prices, brought in just under 122
million pounds, Sotheby's said.
Helena Newman, co-chairman of Sotheby's impressionist and
modern art department, said the result "was up there with the
top end of the estimate".
She said buyers were especially interested in works from
renowned private collections and had come from all over the
world. "I don't have the full geographical breakdown yet but
there was certainly very, very global participation tonight,"
The bidding for the Monet water lilies painted in a square
format in 1906 went on for some 10 minutes, involving buyers
from Asia, at the packed Sotheby's auction house in central
London, Sotheby's said.
In its final stages the price went up by 250,000-pound
increments until reaching the final all-in price of 31.722
The same work, which Sotheby's said had set a record for
Monet water lilies in a square format, had been offered in 2010
and failed to reach its reserve price. Newman attributed the
success of the sale this time to "the fact that the estimate
seemed to be more realistic," although it was still a huge sum
Asked what had driven buyers to fork out such large sums,
Philip Hook, senior director of the impressionist and modern
pictures department at Sotheby's, said, "The nympheas (water
lilies) selling for such a huge sum is again a reflection that
this is still a market that is driven by trophies, that the
great works by the major masters are still really sought after."
The other top-priced painting was a Piet Mondrian 1927
"Composition with Red, Blue and Grey," which sold for 15.2
million pounds ($25.9 million), or somewhat less than the
house's top estimate of 18 million pounds.
Most of the works on offer, which included paintings by
Sisley, Picasso, Manet and Kandinsky, sold at close to the top
end of the pre-auction estimates and sometimes above.
(Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Toni Reinhold)