According to Alicia Silverstone’s character in the film, Clueless, a “Monet” is someone who is like a painting; “From far away, it’s okay, but up close, it’s a big old mess,” referring to Impressionist painter Claude Monet’s quick brush strokes. Although any way you look at Monet’s paintings, whether up close and personal or from a distance, you’d be hard pressed to find fault in this master’s extraordinary works. And according to Christie’s latest Monet auction, it seems that many art enthusiasts would have to agree.
One of Monet’s most famed pieces, The Railway Bridge at Argenteuil, was recently sold for an earth-shattering $41.4 million at Christie’s, an astounding $6.4 million above the estimated sale price in this month’s issue of Haute Living. Christie’s last auctioned the work for $12.4 million in 1988. The last piece to even come close to this staggering number was Monet’s Nympheas, which sold last year for $36.5 million. The painting of the railway bridge with boats passing underneath invokes a confluence of past, present, and future, and perhaps this nostalgia plays a factor in the exorbitant new price tag, making this French Impressionist’s landscape painting still relevant to contemporary art connoisseurs.
Despite recent foreclosure trends, it seems that there is still a strong uber-wealthy crowd of art enthusiasts where money is no object when it comes to classic art. It makes one wonder, however, how much this Monet would fetch if the U.S. economy were not entering a recession?