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Roy Lichtenstein’s 1964 painting “Sleeping Girl” sold for $44.9 million tonight at Sotheby’s (BID) contemporary-art sale in New York.
The price established a new auction record for the Pop artist (1923-1997), surpassing its high estimate of $40 million and the previous record of $43.2 million.
The 3-foot-square image of a sultry blonde has been in the collection of Phil and Beatrice Gersh, who bought it from the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in 1964. The Gershes were founding members of the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Beatrice Gersh died last year. Her husband, a former Hollywood agent, died in 2004.
Earlier in the sale, a ton of porcelain sunflower seeds by Ai Weiwei fetched $782,500, an auction record for the Chinese dissident artist. In January, Mary Boone Gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea district exhibited five tons of Ai’s seeds configured into a 16-by-32-foot rectangle. In 2010, Ai installed more than 100 million similar hand-crafted seeds in the Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern.
Ai’s previous record: a dazzling 18-foot-tall chandelier that sold for $657,000 at Sotheby’s in September 2007.
Sotheby’s sale continues. Its 57 lots are expected to tally $215.6 million to $303.9 million.
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