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SAC Cohen’s $20 Million Water Lilies Joins Gagosian Monet Show

``Le Bassin aux Nympheas'' (1919) by Claude Monet. The painting fetched 40.2 million pounds ($80.7 million) at Christie's London in 2008, setting the auction record for the artist. It represents the artist's late phase, the focus of an exhibition at the Gagosian gallery in New York's Chelsea art district. Source: Christies via Bloomberg
``Le Bassin aux Nympheas'' (1919) by Claude Monet. The painting fetched 40.2 million pounds ($80.7 million) at Christie's London in 2008, setting the auction record for the artist. It represents the artist's late phase, the focus of an exhibition at the Gagosian gallery in New York's Chelsea art district. Source: Christies via Bloomberg

     April 30 (Bloomberg) -- A $20.2 million Claude Monet water-lilies painting from the collection of hedge-fund manager Steven A. Cohen is the centerpiece of a Gagosian gallery show in New York opening tomorrow.

“Claude Monet: Late Work,” an exhibition devoted to the aging artist’s years at Giverny, France, also includes works from the Art Institute of Chicago and the Beyeler Foundation in Switzerland.

Mounted in Gagosian’s outpost in Chelsea, the exhibition brings the impressionist painter who died in 1926 into New York’s contemporary-art hub.

“It’s a brilliant thing to do,” said David Norman, Sotheby’s co-chairman of impressionist and modern art. “It’s good for marketing and sales. It’s also good because the best of these works are great paintings.”

Cohen, the founder of SAC Capital Advisors LP in Stamford, Connecticut, owns Monet’s 1906 “Nympheas” which fetched 13.5 million pounds ($20.2 million) at Sotheby’s London in 2002. The buyer wasn’t disclosed at the time.

People familiar with the painting said it will now make its appearance at the gallery in the company of two “Nympheas” pictures, loaned by the Beyeler Foundation, and the Chicago Art Institute’s “Water Lily Pond.” Jonathan Gasthalter, Cohen’s spokesman, declined to comment.

What’s for Sale?

Prices for important Monet paintings start at around $10 million, while the auction record was set in 2008, when “Le basin aux nympheas” fetched 40.2 million pounds ($80.7 million) at Christie’s London. London-based art consultant Tania Buckrell Pos bought the work for an unidentified client.

It’s unclear whether the Cohen picture is for sale or included only to stoke market interest in Monet.

The gallery wouldn’t comment on the availability of works or prices.

The Monet project recalls Gagosian’s late-Picasso show last year which tapped into the growing appetite for Picasso’s once-spurned late paintings among new collectors.

“Gagosian provided a distribution channel for people who wanted to capitalize on that rising market,” said Beverly Schreiber Jacoby of consulting firm BSJ Fine Art in New York. “Because the exhibition was widely recognized, if you were going to consign something to auction, it would give your Picasso a boost.”

Water lilies began appearing in Monet’s paintings around 1900, when the artist was 60 years old, and remained his subject until his death. As Monet’s arm got weaker and eye sight worsened, the paintings became more abstract, the canvases larger and the brushstrokes bolder.

Even Australians

“They used to be considered the lesser of the late pictures,” said Sotheby’s Norman. “Now these late Monets don’t seem unfinished. They look like precursors to the great postwar abstract art and even contemporary art.”

“Everybody is collecting Monet: from the Middle East to China, Russia and South America,” said Buckrell Pos, the art consultant. “Even Australians love Monet.”

To contact the reporter of this story: Katya Kazakina in New York at kkazakina@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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