NEW YORK - A Vincent Van Gogh painting fetched more than US$66 million (S$88m) at a New York auction on Tuesday, the most paid for a work by the Dutch post-impressionist artist since 1998.
According to the Sotheby's auction firm, Van Gogh's "Les Alyscamps," which depicts a stand of autumnal trees, had been expected to go for around US$40 million but ultimately an Asian collector paid US$66.3 million after an intense bidding war between five potential buyers.
Also reaching the pricing stratosphere was a "Water Lilies" painting by French impressionist Claude Monet, which sold for US$54 million, smashing Sotheby's valuation of between US$30 million and US$45 million.
The most ever paid for a Van Gogh was in 1990, when his "Portrait of Dr Gachet" sold for US$82.5 million in New York. Adjusted to today's dollars, that's about US$153 million.
Of the six Monet works offered at auction, "Le Palais Ducal," painted in Venice in 1908, went under the hammer for US$23.1 million, more than its estimated US$15 million to US$20 million.
And his "Bassin aux nympheas, les rosiers" sold for US$20.4 million. The two other Monet paintings found no buyer.
Tuesday's sale of impressionist and contemporary works marks the start of auction season in the Big Apple.
Pablo Picasso's colorful "The Women of Algiers (Version 0)," depicting a scene from a harem, will be up for grabs when Christie's puts it on the auction block May 11.
The artwork has been valued at US$140 million.
Also expected to break a record was Alberto Giacometti's "Man Pointing" sculpture, expected to sell for US$130 million.
The world record for a painting sold at auction is US$142.4 million for Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of Lucian Freud," which was snapped up in New York in 2013.
Giacometti holds the record for "Walking Man I," which sold for US$104.3 million in 2010.