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'Water Lilies' by Monet auctioned in NY to unnamed Asian buyer for US$27 mil.

NEW YORK -- A Claude Monet painting out of the public eye for decades sold Tuesday for just over US$27 million, leading the bidding at an auction of art from the estates of heiress Huguette Clark, businessman Edgar Bronfman and other major collectors.

“Water Lilies,” Monet's 1907 rendition of his beloved garden in Giverny, France, went to an undisclosed Asian buyer in the season-opening auction of impressionist and modern art at Christie's. The painting, part of Clark's collection since 1930, has not been publicly exhibited since 1926.

Christie's is selling hundreds of items from Clark's collection after a feud over her estate was settled in the fall. The Montana copper mining heiress died at 104 in 2011. Her father, U.S. Sen. William A. Clark, founded Las Vegas.

Art from other estates, including works by Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso from the collection of the late billionaire Bronfman, also changed hands. The Canadian-American, a former head of Seagram Co. and longtime president of the World Jewish Congress, died late last year.

All told, Christie's sold 47 pieces Tuesday, raising more than US$285 million.

None of the sales eclipsed the artists' auction records.

Picasso's 1942 painting of his mistress in a purple dress titled “Portrait of Dora Maar” and Wassily Kandinsky's 1909 abstract “Beach Scene,” sold for US$22.5 million and US$17.2 million, respectively.

Both came from the estate of German collectors Viktor and Marianne Langen and were at auction for the first time.

Amedeo Modigliani's 1919 portrait “Young Man,” part of a private American collection, sold for US$17.6 million.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir's “Young Women Playing Badminton,” another from the Clark estate, sold for US$11.4 million.

The prices include the buyer's premium.

Christie's is scheduled to sell other pieces from the Clark collection on June 18.

The scene moves to Sotheby's on Wednesday. The auction house is offering four sculptures and one oil painting by Alberto Giacometti. Leading the selection is the artist's “City Square,” a multi-figural sculpture that is estimated to bring US$12 million to US$18 million.

Giacometti's "Large Thin Head (Large Head of Diego)," a sculptural representation of the artist's younger brother, brought US$50 million at auction last year. The auction record for any Giacometti work is US$103.9 million.

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This undated file photo provided by Christie's auction house shows French impressionist painter Claude Monet's “Water Lilies” from the Huguette Clark collection. (AP)

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