Erotic Art Seduces with Record US$6.6 million at London Auction

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Bidders at this year’s erotic art auction by Sotheby’s found themselves utterly seduced as the inaugural sale smashed pre-auction estimates, bringing in a record US$6.6 million.

Erotic: Passion & Desire, which featured more than a hundred lots of fine art, photography and sculpture, was initially expected to fetch around US$4 million by night’s end. Almost half of the art sold above the high estimate, bringing yet another monumental auction to close.

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Among the show’s highlights include a rare surviving work by Sarah Bernhardt, an early film actress who lived in the 19th century. Bernhardt, whose sculptural masterpiece was also sold above the high estimate, is widely considered one of the greatest actresses of all time. Bernhardt’s marble sculpture Orphelia sold for almost US$400,000.

French sculptor Jacques Loysel made the show’s star with La Grande Nevrose selling for a record US$2.3 million. The marble female figure was originally expected to sell for less than £180,000, a tiny fraction of its impressive sale.

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Collectively the works sold for £5.3 million, with the star of the show, La Grande Nevrose, a female figure in marble by French sculptor Jacques Loysel, going under the hammer for more than £1.8 million.

According to Constantine Frangos, Head of Sale, exceptional interest was sparked amongst collectors from all over the world.

“Bids [were] flying in from eighteen countries,” said Frangos. “The auction has not only given us the opportunity to tell a story, with specialists from across the company bringing their own perspectives, but it has also been wonderful to witness the animated discussions that each work has sparked since the sale went on view."

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