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Claude Monet

Champ de blé (1881)
Price: $12.1 million

The day after Christie's disappointing sale of Monet's water lilies, the artist's sweeping view of a wheat field fetched nearly double its estimated value in spirited bidding at Sotheby's.

Once owned by Chase bank president Henry White Cannon, the painting had belonged to the Cleveland Museum since 1947. Works locked up for so long often draw avid bidding, and buyers perhaps sensed this iconic Monet wouldn't be seen again for some time.

But when the dust settled, Sotheby's sales had fallen short of expectations. Nearly a third of the works on auction went unsold.

Photo: Sotheby's