Monet Money

Bass family's Monet masterpiece could fetch more than $30 million at auction

Bass family's Monet masterpiece could fetch more than $30M at auction

Claude Monet, La Gare Saint-Lazare, Vue extérieure, 1877
Claude Monet, La Gare Saint-Lazare, Vue extérieure, 1877 Photo courtesy of Christie's

UPDATE: The Bass family's Monet masterpiece sold for $32,828,648 at auction in London, Christie's says.

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The billionaire Bass family of Fort Worth is selling a crown jewel of their masterpiece art collection, and it's expected to fetch a dizzying amount. Claude Monet’s 1877 work La Gare Saint-Lazare, Vue extérieure will be auctioned through Christie's in London on June 20. The auction house estimates it will sell for about $29 million-$37 million.

The painting, part of the collection of philanthropists Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass, will be sold on the heels of another work from the same series, which was offered in New York as part of the Collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller in May. That example realized $32.9 million.

The iconic Monet piece will lead Christie’s next Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale. This painting is one of 12 canvases in Monet’s well-known "Gare Saint-Lazare" series depicting a Paris railway station; all were completed between January and March of 1877.

Christie's gives this bit of background: "By 1870, the Gare Saint-Lazare was handling over 13 million passengers a year and had become a major transit point for the vibrant city. The modern age of steam trains, iron railway bridges, and extensive public transport was perfectly captured in this remarkable series of Monet’s steamfilled, atmospheric impressionist masterpieces." 

The La Gare Saint-Lazare, Vue extérieure depicts an exterior view of the station, its platforms, and railway track. 

“This superb painting describes Monet at his Impressionist best, capturing in quick, bold brushstrokes the energy of metropolitan Paris as described by the sound and fury of the glorious steam trains as they left the Gare Saint Lazare on their journeys northwards out of the city," Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie's global president, says in a release.

Of the 12 paintings in the series, three still remain in private hands and nine are in public institutions, including The Art Institute of Chicago; The National Gallery, London; The Musée Marmottan, Paris; and The Musée d’Orsay, Paris. 

The Basses assembled a stunning, museum-quality collection of art over 40 years and were drawn to Impressionism. Several of the works hung in the Kimbell Art Museum as part of a major exhibition in 2015; the museum recently returned the Bass-owned works to the family.

In addition to longstanding relationships with Fort Worth museums, Nancy Bass was also involved with the Collector’s Committee of the National Gallery of Art. In Washington, the Basses endowed a fund that has enabled works by PostWar and Contemporary artists to enter the National Gallery’s permanent collection. Perry Bass died in 2006, and Nancy, in 2013.

More than 30 other masterworks from their collection were sold in New York in November, where a highlight was Vincent van Gogh’s Laboureur dans un champ, which sold for $81,312,500 — the second highest price achieved for a work by the artist at auction, Christie's says.