Chicago’s Union League Club to Sell Monet Painting

Chicago's Union League Club Decided to Sell Its Prized Monet Painting to Fund $10 M. Building Renovation.

Mar 22, 2024By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Chicago's Union League Club
The club. Via International Associate Clubs.


Chicago’s Union League Club decided to sell its prized Monet painting, called Pommiers en fleurs (1872). But, this is not the only piece up for selling – there is also a work Walter Ufer. The goal is to support financing for a $10 million building refurbishment. The Monet painting, previously mentioned, depicts a French street with blossoming white flowers and bushes.


Chicago’s Union League Club Crisis Due to Covid-19

Claude Monet, Pommiers en fleurs, 1872. UNION LEAGUE OF CHICAGO


Club member Judge John Barton Payne first acquired the painting in 1895. He also sold it to the club for $500. The retail price of the 23-inch by 29-inch artwork increased to $20,000 in the late 1950s. It went up even more in 1985, reaching an estimated price of $900,000. Aside from a show at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2020, the spring scene has been shown on the club’s second floor since its acquisition.


The historic private social club previously allowed the sale of the Monet masterpiece in December 2020. This happened because the COVID-19 outbreak caused a strain on the economy. The 501(c)(7) tax-exempt organisation already reduced almost 75% of its full-time workers because of reduced managerial salaries. Also, it raised $520,000 in member donations.


The club. Via ULCC.


By the end of 2020, the painting’s market worth was expected to range within $5 million and $15 million. However, the Union League Club turned down a $7.2 million bid from an Australian art dealer. A plan to sell the artwork ended up in court, and a judge determined that the club was not required to finish the transaction before March 2021.

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Hope That Piece Is Worth a Lot More

The Luncheon, Claude Monet, 1868-69. Source: Städel Museum.


The Chicago Tribune claimed that a “significant mortgage” led to the sale of Pommiers en fleurs and Ufer’s Land of Mañana (1917), despite the club’s improved financial situation. Also, due to funds for the renovation of its structure, which will turn 100 years old next May. “We believe that now’s the time to raise capital”, board vice president Frank DeVincentis said.


“Rather than impose on our existing members with a one-time assessment, we believe that raising the funds through the sale of some art is most appropriate”, he also added. There is also hope that Pommiers en fleurs is now worth a lot more. “It is in excess of that $7.2 million figure”, DeVincentis further explained. “Much greater excess”.


Claude Monet – Branch of the Seine near Giverny. Via Wikipedia.


According to The Tribune, Winston Art Group, based in New York, has been contracted to sell Pommiers en fleurs and Land of Mañana. The Union League Club and Winston Art Group weren’t responsive when it comes to media questions about the topic.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.