Record Set for Gauguin Sculpture at NY Auction


A rare wooden bust by Paul Gauguin sold Tuesday at auction in New York for $11.2 million, setting a record for a sculpture by the French artist.

The "Jeune Tahitienne" sculpture was estimated by Sotheby's to sell for between $10-15 million and depicts the head of a young girl with large earrings and coral necklaces.

It dates from Gauguin's visit to Tahiti between 1890 and 1893, a period from which only a handful of sculptures have survived. Sotheby's said the previous record price for a Gauguin sculpture was $1.4 million.

Gauguin gave the sculpture to Jeanne Fournier, the 10-year-old daughter of collector Jean Dolent, as a present after he returned to Paris in 1894. The piece was sold in 1961 to a priest in the Dominican Order who consigned it to Sotheby's in London, where it changed hands again.

The first of the big spring sales in New York saw Pablo Picasso's "Femmes lisant" sell for $21.3 million, below the $25-35 million pre-sale estimate. It was one of 10 Picassos offered.

Although sales had mixed success, the auction season started with renewed optimism in the international art market.

Christie's follows with its own impressionist and modern art auction Wednesday. Next week, the rival auction houses will hold contemporary art sales.

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