Rockefeller art auction fetches $646m on opening night

Published: May 10, 2018 11:25:15 | Updated: May 15, 2018 12:32:40


A record-breaking sale of late billionaire David Rockefeller's private art collection has brought in over $646 million on its opening night.

A portrait by Pablo Picasso sold for $115 million and a Monet painting from his water garden series sold for $84.7 million - the highest ever paid for the artist.

With two days left, the event has become the highest-grossing sale of a single-owner art collection at auction.

The works of art are being sold off at Christie's auction house in New York, according to a BBC report Thursday.

"We have already broken the record for any collection sale," Christie's Jessica Fertig told CBS News.

Mr Rockefeller, the last of his generation in the famed American family and grandson of Standard Oil co-founder John D Rockefeller, died last year at age 101.

A Picasso painting depicting a young nude girl, Fillette a la corbeille fleurie, was among the most expensive items sold on Tuesday night.

The artwork dates from the artist's "Rose" period, when he was still relatively unknown and quite poor, living in Paris' Montmartre district.

According to Christie's, the girl depicted was "a teenage flower seller from the Place du Tertre, who sold her body as well as her roses outside the Moulin Rouge".

An anonymous buyer bought the 1905 painting, which previously belonged to writer Gertrude Stein, for $115 million - the second-highest price at auction for Picasso.

Claude Monet's "Nymphéas en fleur" sold for $81.7 million and broke a 2016 record sale for the artist, which had gone for $81.4 million.

Mr Rockefeller and his wife, Peggy, amassed a collection of art, furniture, ceramics, and decor throughout their lives.

The couple were seen as "potent symbols of New York society", according to the New York Times.

More than 1,500 lots of art owned by the Rockefellers will be sold over the coming days in what has been billed as the "sale of a century".

Items included a pair of silver salt and pepper shakers valued at up to $600 and a dessert service set that Napoleon brought with him into exile on the island of Elba.

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