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NEW YORK, Nov 10 (AFP) - A large-scale metal sculpture by American artist David Smith has become the most expensive work of contemporary art ever sold at auction, fetching 23.8 million dollars at Sotheby's in New York.
Five bidders competed for Smith's "Cubi XXVII" which was the starting lot at a Wednesday evening sale of 54 contemporary works that brought in 114.5 million dollars.
The 1965 sculpture was finally snapped up by Manhattan dealer Larry Gagosian at nearly twice its high estimate of 12 million dollars.
Experts attributed the record price to the fact that most of Smith's works are in museums or permanent collections and therefore make extremely rare auction appearances.
"This exceedingly rare work was the pinnacle of a four-decade career," said Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's worldwide head of contemporary art and the auctioneer for the evening.
The second best price of the evening was the 9.2 million dollars paid for "Jackie Frieze," one of two works in which Andy Warhol assembled portraits of Jackie Kennedy in a frieze format.
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