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Bird sculpture fetches record $27m

From Senior Producer Phil Hirschkorn

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The winning bid for Brancusi's "Bird in Space," seen on a video screen during the auction, was $24.5 million.
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Christie's Auction House sells rare bird sculpture for $27.4 million.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A rare marble version of "Bird in Space" by Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi sold Wednesday at Christie's auction house for $27.4 million, a world record for a sculpture at a public auction.

The 4-foot (1.2 meter), gray-blue work, made in 1922-23, was discovered in the attic of a northern Europe mansion last year.

Christie's sold it at its Impressionist and Modern art sale in Manhattan Wednesday night to an unidentified telephone bidder, who outbid another telephone bidder in steadily escalating $500,000 increments.

The winning bid was $24.5 million, but the final price includes a seller's commission of 20 percent on the first $200,000 and 12 percent on the balance, taking the total to $27.4 million.

"The Brancusi is an extraordinary sculpture -- it's really an icon of the 20th century and is particularly exciting because it's a brand new discovery," said Christopher Eykyn, Christie's head of Impressionist and Modern Art.

"It's been off the market pretty much ever since it left the artist's hands and is one of his most signature images."

Brancusi was known for his simple, abstract forms, such as "Bird in Space," which was typically cast in polished bronze.

He lived in Paris from 1904 until his death in 1957.

The previous record public auction price for a sculpture was $18.2 million for another work by Brancusi called "Danaide," which showed a woman's face.

That piece sold at Christie's in 2002.


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