It's not every day that an iconic painting from one of the world's greatest painters hits the auction block. It's also an extremely rare moment when it's the first time it's been seen in almost a century.
On May 6, Christie's will auction a water lily painting by Claude Monet from the estate of Huguette Clark that has not been exhibited since 1926.
Not only is this 1907 Monet masterpiece important, but its mysterious provenance could add big to the final price tag, according to Brooke Lampley, head of impressionist and modern art at Christie's.
"It's a sensation, it's more than the market can even ask for. This is a perfect storm," Lampley said.
Although many people will not recognize Clark's name, her family was American royalty during the Gilded Age—a time when mining, banking and railroad titans were some of the richest and most powerful men in the country.
Clark was the daughter of William Andrews Clark, the so-called Copper King, who struck it rich in the Montana copper mines.
"It's a great American story," Lampley said.
The family patriarch left behind a fortune worth more than $300 million to his daughter Huguette, who later became known as the "reclusive heiress." She went into seclusion in the early 1960s, remaining hidden for the rest of her life.
She passed away in 2011 at the age of 104 and Christie's auction house is selling more than 400 items from her estate. Some of the items include paintings by legendary artists Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, rare books, jewelry and even a Stradivarius violin.