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Claude Monet

Nymphéas (1905)
Price: $43.8 million

An early example of Monet's famous water lilies paintings, this Impressionist icon was off the market (in the hands of Wall Street executive Herbert Allen Jr.) for decades.

Yet at Christie's Impressionism and Modern Art sale on Nov. 7, the bidding for the painting ended squarely in the middle of its estimated range. This was the first sign that wealthy collectors' enthusiasm had been dampened—perhaps (literally) by Hurricane Sandy, or by President Barack Obama's re-election.

Photo: Christie's