US auction sets record for Hopper painting

NEW YORK - An Edward Hopper painting of a bleak US street corner during the Great Depression sold Thursday for $40.5 million (S$50.7 million), a record for the American artist, the Christie's auction house said.

"East Wind Over Weehawken," a wintery depiction of a an angular two-story Victorian house with a for-sale sign on a nearby lot, had been valued at between $22 million and $28 million.

It was sold by the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts to finance new acquisitions and went to an anonymous bidder, Christie's said in a statement.

Hopper regarded "East Wind" as one of his most important works. Critics say it captured the grim mood that gripped the United States during the economic crisis of the 1930s.

The New Jersey clapboard house it depicts still stands, albeit painted white rather than dark green. Despite its somber representation on canvas, it commands a splendid view across the Hudson River to Manhattan.

Hopper is best known for "Nighthawks," a nocturnal diner scene, but the previous record for one of his works was set in 2006 when "Hotel Window" sold for $26.9 million.