The paintings and drawings by Cézanne, Pissarro and early 20th-century modern artists like Derain and Modigliani that were bought by Alexander and Elisabeth Lewyt between 1952 and 1956 had remained out of the market for over a half century.
Released by the heirs of the collectors, who died long ago, what remained of a hoard that had once included gems donated by the couple to the Metropolitan Museum of Art galvanized buyers into action.
Its impact culminated when “Les Pommes” painted by Cézanne around 1890, came up. There are far greater still lifes that include apples in the French Impressionist’s oeuvre. But these no longer turn up in the market. Very harmonious and in superb condition, “Les Pommes” triggered a long bidding match, fought anonymously over the telephone. It rose to $41.6 million, a staggering figure
Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/arts/09iht-melikian09.html