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Hopper painting sells for $14 million

From Phil Hirschkorn

Edward Hopper's "Chair Car"
Edward Hopper

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A painting by American artist Edward Hopper sold for $14 million at auction on Wednesday night, establishing a record price for the popular artist's work.

The somber "Chair Car," showing four people inside a commuter train, was the highlight of Christie's post-war and contemporary art sale, which grossed $133.7 million, the largest amount ever for a single auction of art from this period, according to Christie's.

The Hopper was painted in 1965, two years before his death. It had been in the collection of a New York family who knew the artist.

"The people are really anonymous. That was really a trademark of Hopper's work -- sort of quiet, urban, serene, hermetic life that we find in city life," said Laura Paulson, Christie's international director, postwar & contemporary art.

The Berry Hill Gallery, from New York, bought the painting, conducting its bidding by telephone, Christie's said.

The sale was a rare opportunity for collectors. Other than several museum exhibitions, the painting has not been seen much.

"There are very few Hoppers on the market," Paulson said. "Most are in institutions or in private collections where they're really not expected to move."

The previous record price for Hopper's work was $2.4 million for a 1930s painting of a church, which Sotheby's sold in 1990.

Another highlight among the 65 works sold Wednesday was a painting by William DeKooning, "Sail Cloth," which garnered $13.1 million.

Final prices include the price when the hammer falls plus a 20 percent commission on the first $200,000 and 12 percent on the balance.

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