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Man Ray photograph fetches $3.1m world record in Paris

A photograph by surrealist artist Man Ray has soared to a new world record price of more than $3 million at Christie’s in Paris.
‘Noire et Blanche’, taken in 1926, depicts the artist’s muse and lover Kiki de Montparnasse holding an African tribal mask.

The portrait was first published in Vogue in May 1926, and had been described as "one of the most sought after images of the 20th century".

The print sold at Christie’s was the earliest-known copy in existence, and originated from the Thomas Koerfer Collection.

Offered with an estimate of €1 – €1.5 million ($1.19 – $1.79 million), the photograph eventually sold for €2,688,750 ($3,120,658).

That final price established three new world records for a Man Ray photograph; any photograph sold in France; and for any ‘classic era’ photograph, pre-dating the 1960s.

The sale also firmly established ‘Noire et Blanche’ as one of the ten most valuable photographs ever sold at auction.

The collection of Koerfer, an acclaimed film maker and producer, focused on the themes of sensuality and the human body.

In total, 50 photographs from the collection were sold for a combined result of €3.78 million ($4.4 million).

"It has been a real honor to work with Thomas Koerfer for the sale of his collection," said Elodie Morel, Director of the department.

"We are particularly proud of the exceptional result realised by Noire et Blanche, which established several new records. The sale offered other lots of high quality such as the Identical Twins by Diane Arbus which was sold for €547,500, and Reclining Nude on Dark Green by Paul Outerbridge which realised €102,500 after an active bidding battle.

"These exceptional results confirm once again the leadership of Christie’s Photograph department in selling high quality collections."

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