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Impressionist art sparks a high-flying bidding battle

SHARE Impressionist art sparks a high-flying bidding battle

Buyers spent nearly $100 million for a private collection of Impressionist art that inspired nostalgia about the past - and a bidding war that approached record levels.

It took just one hour Monday night for Christie's to auction off 28 paintings, drawings and sculptures collected by the late investment banker John Langeloth Loeb and his wife Frances Lehman Loeb, who was New York City's commissioner for the United Nations.Proceeds from the sale will finance a newly organized charity, in the couple's name, which will support education, health, family planning, art and public policy programs.

Pieces in the collection sold for a total of $92.7 million - well above Christie's estimate of $80 million - and the second highest total for a single-owner sale at auction, The New York Times reported.

An unidentified telephone bidder bought Toulouse-Lautrec's "Seated Dancer in Pink Stockings" (1890) for $14.5 million - a record for the artist. The Loebs paid $250,000 for the painting in 1963.

A powerful portrait of Paul Cezanne's wife, "Madame Cezanne Seated in a Yellow Chair," (1888-1890) brought a high bid of $23.1 million from Ernst Beyler, a dealer living in Basel, Switzerland. The Loebs acquired Cezanne's portrait of his wife in a red dress from the New York dealers Knoedler & Co. for $125,000 in 1956.