Masterpiece sells for $35.8 million


NEW YORK (AP) – A Venice canal scene by J.M.W. Turner sold for $35.8 million – an auction record for a work by a British artist – at Christie’s on Thursday.

The painting, “Giudecca, La Donna della Salute and San Giorgio,” from 1841, was bought by a private collector bidding over the telephone.

“We’re absolutely delighted with the result,” said Rik Pike, a spokesman for the auction house. “It’s a testament to the strength of the Old Master market here.”

The painting was sold by the St. Francis of Assisi Foundation, a nonprofit institution in New York that receives donations to support the missionary effort of the Capuchin order of friars.

A private collector had bought it in 1992 and donated it to the foundation, which did not display it to the public. When the work was exhibited at Christie’s in London last December it was the first time it had been seen by the public in more than 20 years.

The previous auction record for Turner was $9.05 million for “Seascape, Folkestone” sold in London in 1984. The record for any British painting sold at auction was $21 million for John Constable’s “The Lock” in 1990.

The sale also set an auction record for an Old Master painting in the United States. The previous record was $35.2 million for Pontormo’s “Portrait of a Halberdier,” which the Getty Museum bought at Christie’s in May 1989.

The prices include the auction house’s commission.

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