Monet works set to sell for millions in New York

Oil paintings by the French impressionist master Claude Monet are expected to be stars of the spring auction season in New York, where Sotheby's believes they could fetch as much as $110 million.

Monet works set to sell for millions in New York
A porter carries a painting by Claude Monet entitled "L'Entree de Giverny en hiver" during the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale at Sotheby's auction

One of the paintings is part of the famous "Nymphéas" (Water Lilies) series the French artist painted at Giverny. Forecast to sell for an estimated $30-45 million, this work has been held by a collector since 1955, and has not been seen in public since 1945.

The six Monet works have been in private collections; they are expected to generate a lot of enthusiasm on the auction block at evening sales.

The other works are "Le Palais Ducal" painted in 1908 in Venice; it is expected to fetch $15-20 million; "Bassin aux nymphéas, les rosiers" from $18-25 million; and "Le Chemin d'Epinay, effet de neige" (1875). It is expected to sell for $6-8 million.

In addition, "La Seine à Vétheuil" (1901), is expected to bring in $6-8 million; it has been in private hands since 1955 and has not been sold at auction.

And "Au Val Saint-Nicolas près Dieppe, matin" (1897), could fetch $3-4 million, the auction house said.

These six works by the impressionist will be shown in London April 10-14, before returning to New York where they will be on view through May 1.

Auctioneers Christie's, meanwhile, announced Monday it would sell a Monet work —  "Le parlement, soleil couchant" — for an expected $35-45 million on May 11 in New York.

The record for a single Monet was set in June 2008 when Christie's in London sold "Le bassin des Nymphéas" for $80.1 million.

"The six works by Monet that we are privileged to present this May represent exactly what buyers are seeking at this moment: several of his most famous scenes, emerging from prestigious private collections and completely fresh to the market," said Simon Shaw at Sotheby's.

"We're undeniably witnessing an exceptional moment for great works by Monet at Sotheby's. As new generations and new markets rediscover the master, the supply of strong examples remaining in private hands is shrinking fast. The result is fierce competition that leads to the results we have witnessed recently at Sotheby's."

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Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles

Rising high beyond an ancient Roman arena in Arles, a tall, twisted tower created by Frank Gehry shimmers in the sun, the latest futuristic addition to this southern French city known for its World Heritage sites.

Futuristic Gehry tower opens in World Heritage Arles
Gehry's Luma Tower opens in Arles, France. Photo: H I / Pixabay

The tower, which opens to the public on Saturday, is the flagship attraction of a new “creative campus” conceived by the Swiss Luma arts foundation that wants to offer artists a space to create, collaborate and showcase their work.

Gehry, the 92-year-old brain behind Bilbao’s Guggenheim museum and Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, wrapped 11,000 stainless steel panels around his tower above a huge glass round base.

It will house contemporary art exhibitions, a library, and offices, while the Luma Arles campus as a whole will host conferences and live performances.

From a distance, the structure reflects the changing lights of this town that inspired Van Gogh, capturing the whiteness of the limestone Alpilles mountain range nearby which glows a fierce orange when the sun sets.

Mustapha Bouhayati, the head of Luma Arles, says the town is no stranger to
imposing monuments; its ancient Roman arena and theatre have long drawn the

The tower is just the latest addition, he says. “We’re building the heritage of tomorrow.”

Luma Arles spreads out over a huge former industrial wasteland.

Maja Hoffmann, a Swiss patron of the arts who created the foundation, says
the site took seven years to build and many more years to conceive.

Maja Hoffmann, founder and president of the Luma Foundation. Photo: Pascal GUYOT / AFP

Aside from the tower, Luma Arles also has exhibition and performance spaces in former industrial buildings, a phosphorescent skatepark created by South Korean artist Koo Jeong A and a sprawling public park conceived by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets.

‘Arles chose me’

The wealthy great-granddaughter of a founder of Swiss drug giant Roche, Hoffmann has for years been involved in the world of contemporary art, like her grandmother before her.

A documentary producer and arts collector, she owns photos by Annie Leibovitz and Diane Arbus and says she hung out with Jean-Michel Basquiat in New York.

Her foundation’s stated aim is to promote artists and their work, with a special interest in environmental issues, human rights, education and culture.

She refuses to answer a question on how much the project in Arles cost. But as to why she chose the 53,000-strong town, Hoffmann responds: “I did not choose Arles, Arles chose me.”

She moved there as a baby when her father Luc Hoffmann, who co-founded WWF,
created a reserve to preserve the biodiversity of the Camargue, a region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone river delta known for its pink flamingos.

The tower reflects that, with Camargue salt used as mural panels and the
delta’s algae as textile dye.

Hoffmann says she wants her project to attract more visitors in the winter, in a town where nearly a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line.

Some 190 people will be working at the Luma project over the summer, Bouhayati says, adding that Hoffman has created an “ecosystem for creation”.