The Claude Monet painting 'Nympheas' has been sold at auction for £31.7 million, the second-highest price ever paid for the French artist's work at auction. Bidding for the distinctive water lilies piece started at £17 million and raced up to the final bid £28,250,000.

Claude Monet Nympheas Auction Rob Stothard
Claude Monet's 'Nympheas' Has Sold At Auction For Neaarly £32 Million. [Cr: Getty, Rob Stothard]

The final sale price of included a buyer's premium. The painting was the painting was the top lot at Sotheby's sale of modern and impressionist works. 46 modern and impressionist works were up for auction but four did not meet reserve prices.

The artworks collectively brought in just under £122m as Sotheby's said that the global hunt for "trophy paintings" is still on.

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The 1906 artwork was inspired by the lily pond in Monet's garden at Giverny in France. The artist produced a series of approximately 250 paintings on the subject during the last thirty years of his life and painted many whilst he was suffering with cataracts.

The auction house's Philip Hook attributed the impressive final sale price to the growing Asian interest in art collecting. "The Monet [sold] for £31 million because of a lot of Asian competition," the auctioneer said.

"The Nympheas (Water Lilies) selling for such a huge sum is again a reflection that this is still a market that is driven by trophies, that the great works by the major masters are still really sought after."

More: Record-breaking £142.4 million auction for Francis Bacon triptych.

"I think that the future is very bright for the market as more and more new buyers from the emerging markets take part in these sales. At every sale we notice more," Hook added, via BBC News.

Today's sale follows a Christie's auction on the 6th May 2014 where another of the Water Lilies works was sold in New York City for $27 million.