New York



New York – Rare masterpieces by Claude Monet, Wassily Kandinsky and Constantin Brancusi led the November 7 Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art at Christie’s New York, realizing a grand total of $204,800,000 (£129,024,000/ €159,744,000).  A diverse audience of clients from around the world participated in the sale, which achieved sell-through rates of 70% by lot and 80% by value.  Of the 69 works offered, 5 lots sold for over $10 million, 10 for over $5 million and 31 for over $1 million.

“Tonight we were all reminded of the enduring power and appeal of great works of art. In the context of profound world events such as the presidential election in the United States, a transition of leadership in China, the tumult of the stock markets globally, and even the shock of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the art market united in enthusiasm for Impressionist & Modern masterworks by artists as varied as Claude Monet, Wassily Kandinsky and Constantin Brancusi.  We are honored and grateful to have stewarded these gems on behalf of private sellers and various nonprofit institutions alike,” noted Brooke Lampley, Head of Impressionist & Modern Art at Christie’s New York.

The top price for the evening was achieved by Claude Monet’s Impressionist masterpiece Nymphéas (The Water Lilies), a view of the lily pond at Giverny from the iconic series that was the crowning achievement of the artist’s career.  The painting dates from 1905, the year Monet began his most intensive work on a dazzling array of paintings of the lily pond at the heart of his garden. Working feverishly, he would complete more than 60 increasingly abstract views of the pond between 1905 and 1908, or about one every three weeks. The best works of the series – including the present Nymphéas – were selected for his 1909 exhibition at Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris, which proved to be an unprecedented commercial and critical success for Monet.  The work sold for $43,762,500 (£27,570,375           / €34,134,750) to an American private bidder on the telephone, achieving the second highest price for the artist at auction.

The Monet, along with two Impressionist landscapes by Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley, were offered at the auction by Hackley School, a not-for-profit K-12 independent school in Tarrytown, NY.  The paintings were a bequest to the school from Ethel Strong Allen, a gift in keeping with the Allen family’s long tradition of charitable support. Three generations of the Allen family have attended the school, and Mrs. Allen’s late husband served as a trustee and honorary trustee of Hackley for nearly 45 years. The sale of the three paintings raised a combined total of $50,871,500, making it one of the largest donations ever made to an independent school in New York State. Proceeds from their sale will benefit Hackley’s long-term development goals.

Hackley School Headmaster Walter C. Johnson commented: “This truly is a transformative moment in the life of our school, and it is exciting to imagine how this gift will shape our school as it moves forward into the coming decades. Now that the sale has been completed, we have the information needed to inform discussions with the Allen family on how the funds might support Hackley’s programs.”


Among the most anticipated lots of the sale was Wassily Kandinsky’s Expressionist tour-de-force Studie für Improvisation 8, from the artist’s pioneering series of 1909, which achieved $23,042,500 (£14,516,775/ € 17,973,150) and set a new world auction record for the artist.  The mystical scene of a conquering hero wielding a golden sword toppled the previous auction record for the artist of $20.9 million, set in 1990.  “Study for improvisation 8” was sold from the collection of the Volkart Foundation, a charitable trust founded by Volkart Brothers, a prominent Swiss commodities trading firm established in 1851. Proceeds from the sale of the painting will benefit the Foundation’s charitable programs.


Leading the sculptural works in the auction was Constantin Brancusi’s masterpiece Une Muse, a pivotal work in plaster from 1912 that sold for $12,402,500 (£7,813,575/ € 9,673,950). With its upright pose, elegantly curving neck and expressive features, Une Muse captures a critical moment in the artist’s creative evolution and has been widely heralded as a pivotal composition in Brancusi’s mature career. Brancusi’s delicate, stylized rendering of a woman’s head drew widespread accolades from collectors and the press when it debuted at the inaugural Armory Show of 1913 in New York, and has now been requested for inclusion in the centenary celebration of the show next year.

A trio of bronze sculptures by Giacometti also performed well, led by La Jambe (The Leg), a seven foot tall depiction of a human leg.  Modeled in the thin, elongated form for which the artist is best known, La Jambe is the artist’s final statement in a series devoted to depictions of isolated body parts. The work sold for $11,282,500 (£7,107,975/ €8,800,350) to the Richard Gray Gallery. Two additional bronzes, Tête sur tige conceived in 1947, and Tête sans crane, conceived in 1957-58, achieved $6,802,500 and $5,570,500, respectively.


An exceptional group of Picasso works was led by Buste de femme of 1937, an unusually warm and intimate portrait of the artist's raven-haired muse, the photographer Dora Maar, sold for $13,074,500 (£8,236,935/€ 10,198,110).  Arrayed in sophisticated evening dress, with a splash of rouge on her cheeks, this smiling vision of Picasso’s famously mercurial mistress counts among the most open and accessible of his depictions of her. Picasso kept the painting in his personal collection for nearly 30 years after its completion, leaving it to his second wife Jacqueline Roque upon his death.

Surrealist works were led by Joan Miró’s Peinture (Femme, Journal, Chien) from 1925, which achieved $13,746,500 (£8,660,295/ € 10,722,270). Painted with whimsical humor in a bright palette of yellow, red, black and white, the work draws the viewer into the artist’s distinctive visual world of signs and symbols, capturing with just the sparest of elements the artist’s charming vision of a pretty young woman walking her dog on the streets of Paris.  In a clever play on words, Miró inserts into the girl’s hand a folded newspaper revealing the word “jou” – which may be read as an abbreviation for the newspaper Le Journal, or more slyly as an allusion to the girl’s playful nature.

 The Impressionist & Modern Art sales continue tomorrow with the Day and Works on Paper sales. A full series result will be made available Thursday evening.

The complete lot list for this sale is available online at

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a single collection sale (the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, 2018), and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019).

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.