On Tuesday, a famous Monet painting, depicting water lilies, was sold at auction in NYC for $24 million. In a bizarre twist of events, the gallery which sold the painting, didn’t see a dime of the profits. DC’s Corcoran Gallery of Art – which has apparently been pressed for funds of late, stood to earn a fee from the sale, but only if the sale price exceeded $25 million. Even with the $3 million buyer’s premium, the sale didn’t meet the complex conditions laid out by the contested estate of Corcoran benefactor Huguette Clark.

The auction involved at least three phone bidders. Christie’s auctioneerAndreas Rumbler opened the bidding at $18 million, and the sale was over within minutes. The painting had been estimated to be worth $25 million to $35 million, not including the buyer’s premium. Christie’s reportedly described the winning bidder only as “Asian private,” according to The Washington Post.

Corcoran reportedly had no comment on the matter.

The Monet original was painted in 1907 and last went on show in 1926. Its last owner (before the Corcoran gallery), Clark was a shy society lady and aspiring artist of 23 when she purchased it in New York in 1930. Besides being an artist and art benefactor, Huguette Clark was also an heiress. She was the daughter of the late billionaire copper baron and Montana Sen. William A. Clark. When William died in 1925, he left his vast art collection to the Corcoran, and Huguette helped fund a the addition of a new wing to the building near the White House to display her father’s art.

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