Painting from Miller estate sells for $80.5M

Intense bidding yesterday from parties in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States pushed the auction price of a Claude Monet painting owned by Columbus industrialist J. Irwin Miller and his wife, Xenia, to $80.45 million.

A spokesman for Christie’s Auction House said the “Le Basin aux Nympheas” nearly broke a record for a piece of art purchased in Europe, according to The Republic of Columbus. Christie’s had predicted the painting of water lillies would sell for $30 million.

Sixteen other pieces of art from the Miller estate also were auctioned in London, and more are scheduled for auction June 30 and July 1.

Xenia Miller died in February at age 90, and J. Irwin Miller, the former CEO of Cummins Engine Co., died in 2004 at age 94. Both also were well-known philanthropists.

Triggering the sale was the need by heirs, including son Will Miller, CEO of Columbus-based Irwin Financial Corp., to pay taxes on their inheritance.

Other works in the Miller collection include paintings from artists including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Andy Warhol.

Christie’s has called the auction “the most important and valuable collection of Impressionist and Modern Art ever offered” in its history.

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