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Bills Owner’s Estate Auctioning Off Art Collection

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CANTON, OH - AUGUST 8: Buffalo Bills founder Ralph Wilson Jr. and presenter Chris Berman unveil his bust at his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during the 2009 enshrinement ceremony at Fawcett Stadium on August 8, 2009 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

CANTON, OH – AUGUST 8: Buffalo Bills founder Ralph Wilson Jr. and presenter Chris Berman unveil his bust at his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during the 2009 enshrinement ceremony at Fawcett Stadium on August 8, 2009 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Claude Monet certainly made an impression on late Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson.

Two Monet paintings, each valued at more than $10 million, will be among four pieces that Wilson’s estate is putting on the block at Sotheby’s semi-annual Impressionist and Modern Art sale in London on June 23.

Wilson’s collection will lead the auction, and highlighted by Monet’s “La Seine a Argenteuil,” which Sotheby’s values at $12 million to $17 million. Wilson purchased the painting from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1997.

The other Monet in Wilson’s collection up for sale is “Antibes, vue du plateau Notre Dame,” which is valued between $10 million and $13 million. Then there’s Edouard Manet’s “Jeune femme dans les fleurs,” which is valued between $5 million and $7 million, and Alfred Sisley’s “Les bords du Loing,” which is valued between $1.6 million and $2.5 million.

Wilson died in March at the age of 95. His estate is also in the process of selling the Bills, the franchise he founded in 1959.

“Too modest to style himself as a collector, he nonetheless chose works of great beauty, rarity and historic importance,” said David Norman of Sotheby’s, who knew Wilson. “His delight in great works of art was infectious, and it is a true privilege to present these paintings to a new generation of collectors and honor his memory.”

Wilson purchased all four paintings in the 1990s.

The Bills and members of Wilson’s estate did not immediately return requests for comment on the sale.

The Monet’s are highly anticipated to draw the most interest because they represent the pinnacle of the 19th Century Impressionist movement, and because his works don’t often go on the market.

Sotheby’s Charles Moffett described Monet’s “Argenteuil” as a “quintessential Impressionist masterwork that was rightly treasured by Mr. Wilson until the end of his remarkable life.”

Moffett added: “The opportunity for collectors today to acquire such a major work from a critical moment in the artist’s career is not likely to be repeated in the foreseeable future.”

They will be part of a much larger sale featuring 46 pieces of art, including Monet’s “Nympheas,” and several works by Pablo Picasso.

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AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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