Monet's glasses sell for over $69k in Hong Kong

HONG KONG - A collection of French artist Claude Monet's personal belongings, including a pair of round-rimmed wire spectacles, have fetched almost US$11 million (S$14.8 million) at an auction in Hong Kong, Christie's said.

The dainty glasses, made from gold-coloured metal, went to an unnamed Asian buyer on Sunday for US$51,457, far exceeding the auction house's estimate of US$1,000 to US$1,500.

The sale included other rare items, such as Monet's pencil sketches, paintings and Japanese woodblock prints from the French master's personal collection.

A sculpture of a cat from 19th century Japan's late Edo or early Meiji period, sleeping curled up and measuring 32.8cm, went under the hammer for US$67,538.

"This collection provides an intimate insight into the life of Monet the artist and Monet the collector," said Adrien Meyer, co-chairman of the Impressionist and Modern art department at Christie's.

The top lots sold for well above their estimated price.

An oil painting of a cliff face overlooking the sea by Monet, titled "Falaises des Petites-Dalles", went for US$4.6 million. Another landscape, "Trois arbres a Giverny (Peupliers)", fetched US$4 million.

Over 75 per cent of the lot - which went for a combined US$10.99 million - was snapped up by Asian buyers. Hong Kong's auction houses are well-known for feverish bidding, particularly by wealthy Chinese collectors.

Monet's artworks have broken world auction records.

The painting "Meule" sold in New York last year for US$81.4 million
Photo: AFP

The painting "Meule", from his famous grainstack series, sold in New York last year for US$81.4 million, a record for the French master, Christie's said at the time.

The previous record was set in June 2008, when "Water Lilies" took US$80.4 million at a Christie's sale in London.

One of Monet's early works - pencil sketches of sailboats on paper when he was a teenager - was sold for a relatively modest US$136,685 in Hong Kong on Sunday.