New York's spring art sales setting new records for blue-chip artists

Claude Monet's "Meules" sold for $110.7 million, setting a new auction record for the Impressionist artist.

Sotheby's, Christie's and Phillips's various evening and day spring auctions include more than 2000 lot s-- estimated to raise at least $1.6 billion.

Kicking off spring sale season, Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art sale fetched $399 million on May 13 -- setting new auction records for works by Balthus and Pierre Bonnard.

"Thérèse sur une banquette" by Balthus was one of the several trophy works from the collection of the late publishing magnate S.I. Newhouse. Estimated between $12-18 million, the portrait finally sold for $19 million. The price was more than double the artist's auction record, set at $9.9 million in 2015 for "Lady Abdy."

Another top lot was Pierre Bonnard's "Une terrasse à Grasse" from the Drue Heinz collection. The painting hammered at $16 million, well above the previous record for a work by the French painter of $11.6 million.

New York City's week of spring art sales continued with Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art auction on May 14, which notched a new record for Claude Monet. Although five of the evening's 55 lots failed to sell, "Meules" fetched $110.7 million after eight minutes of bidding.

The price surpassed Monet's former auction record of $84.6 million, set by "Nymphéas en fleur" in 2018. It also set an auction high for any work by an Impressionist painter, according to Sotheby's.

So far, the most notable sale of this spring art season is Jeff Koons' record-breaking "Rabbit." Estimated at $50 to $70 million, the stainless-steel sculpture sold for $9.1 million at Christie's -- a new world auction record for a work by a living artist.

The title was previously held by David Hockney for his 1972 painting "Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)."

Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art evening sale also set world auction records for several leading artists, such as Frank Stella, Daniel Buren and Larry Rivers.

Louise Bourgeois's "Spider" sold for $32 million -- establishing a new high for a contemporary sculpture by a female artist.

The spring art sale season might still bring in some surprises. Both scheduled on May 16, Sotheby's Contemporary Art evening sale and Phillips' 20th-Century and Contemporary Art evening sale will offer trophy lots by Mark Rothko and Jean-Michel Basquiat.