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Experts unsurprised by record Monet sales pri -

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Experts unsurprised by record Monet sales price

The World Today - Wednesday, 25 June , 2008 12:55:00

Reporter: Bronwyn Herbert

TANYA NOLAN: A rare Monet painting of waterlilies has sold overnight for $85-million setting a new
record for works by the French impressionist.

The Claude Monet canvas "Le Bassin Aux Nympheas" was sold at auction in London to a telephone
bidder.

Art experts agree on the value of the work but there were predictions it wouldn't fetch such a high
price in a time of global economic turmoil.

Bronwyn Herbert spoke with art market analyst Michael Reid.

MICHAEL REID: Well, it's actually starting to become comparable with other great late 19th and
early 20th century painters.

Remember Picasso really has set the benchmark when about two years ago his rose period, Boy with
Pipe sold for $AUS184-million.

So it is probably long overdue that a major Monet has started to reach those kind of financial
levels. Probably it has been a bit slow because major Monet's are just so hard to come onto the
market these days.

It has been decades and decades now where they are largely held in art museums or in private
collections that don't sell. So it was a question of just the right painting coming on the market
at the right time.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Do you think $85-million is actually a conservative amount?

MICHAEL REID: Well, they had estimated at I think something like $35-million mark but look, you
have got to, it doesn't surprise me. It is not as if it was a price that I kind of dropped out of
my chair.

You have just now got to realise that there are just so many super wealthy in this world and that
the kind of $50-$100 million price range for a major piece of western art is now well within, it is
now a relatively common occurrence.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Michael would you be able to describe this artwork for us?

MICHAEL REID: Well, it is you know, Monet is of course famous as an impressionist. One of his great
periods of course was 'water lilies'. Now the subject itself, whether it was 'haystacks' which he
did on water, what Monet was actually looking at was the same scene, his garden, his waterlily pond
but at various times of the day. So it is an impression, a mood of the waterlilies as time travels.

BRONWYN HERBERT: And this type of money that we are talking about for this art, what you are just
saying is boosted just by the global market. There is just so much money out there that people are
willing to pay whatever.

MICHAEL REID: There is just so much money. In this week alone in London and New York there is a
billion dollars of art being sold - in a week. In ten days actually I should say.

So this week has been an important week for a tester on the market but you can say that Monet has
really led it.

You've got to understand that in the 80s, late 80s and the early 90s the kind of pillars of the
international art world were Europe, Japan and North America.

Now when I was speaking to the general manager of Christie's last year, she was saying to me that
the pillars of the international art market are specifically Europe but also Russia, India, China,
Japan, North America.

TANYA NOLAN: That is Michael Reid speaking with reporter Bronwyn Herbert.