Edouard Manet (1832-1883), « Le Printemps », signed and dated ‘manet 1881’ (lower left), oil on canvas, 29 1/8 x 20¼ in. (74 x 51.5 cm.). Painted in 1881. Estimate $25,000,000 – $35,000,000. Price Realized $65,125,000. Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2014.

NEW YORK (AFP).– A stunning 1881 masterpiece by Edouard Manet sold for $65 million at auction in New York on Wednesday, a record for a work by the French impressionist artist.

« Le Printemps, » which the auction house Christie’s had valued at $25-30 million, depicts a famous actress of the day and was exhibited in 1882 to critical acclaim while Manet was one of the most famous living artists.

The canvas has been owned by the same family for more than a century and for the last 20 years been on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

It was snapped up by a buyer in the front row who calmly fended off furious bidding on the telephone to clinch the picture for $65.13 million.

The previous auction record for a work of art by Manet was $33 million — a self-portrait sold in 2010 at Sotheby’s in London.

Later in the evening, Christie’s sold « Les constructeurs avec arbre » by French cubist painter Fernand Leger for $17.53 million after much slower bidding.

The auction house had valued the painting at up to $22 million. Wednesday’s auction featured a number of cubist works, hoping to capitalize on interest in a current cubism exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The exhibition features the private collection of billionaire philanthropist Leonard Lauder, son of the late cosmetics tycoon Estee Lauder.

Christie’s auction comes after Sotheby’s sold more than $422 million worth of modern and impressionist art at an evening sale on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s highlights were a 1950 bronze by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti for $101 million and Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani’s « Tete » for $70.7 million.


A Christie’s employee speaks about Fernand Leger’s « Les constructeurs avec arbre » during a media preview October 31, 2014 at Christie’s in New York. AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert.


Edouard Manet’s « Le Printemps » is displayed during a media preview October 31, 2014 at Christie’s. AFP PHOTO/Don Emmert.