Franciscans raise $A30.7m from painting sale
Three paintings donated to a charity run by the Franciscan friars in the UK yesterday sold for more than $A30.7.
Two of the works were by the impressionists Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and the third was by the fauve artist Maurice de Vlaminck. They had been donated by a European collector to the St Francis of Assisi Foundation, through which the order, noted for its members' austere way of life, runs aid projects around the world.
The pictures were in an auction of impressionist and modern art at Christie's in London, with works by Paul Cezanne and Edouard Manet, as well as another Monet not seen in public for more than a century.
De Vlaminck's La Seine a Chatou, depicting the river in the Paris suburb where the artist grew up, sold for £7.15m, almost twice its estimate.
It is understood that the paintings' former owner bought them in the 1980s. Deeply religious, he had planned to leave them to the monks in his will. But he was persuaded to hand them over before his death, so that he could see for himself the good work that would be done with the money raised.
A spokeswoman for Christie's said: "The monks will be delighted with the sale. The bidding was intense, especially with the de Vlaminck, and the total raised was well above the estimate."