NEW YORK (AFP) - A stunning 1881 masterpiece by Edouard Manet sold for $65 million at auction in New York on Wednesday, a record for a work by the French impressionist artist.
"Le Printemps," which the auction house Christie's had valued at $25-30 million, depicts a famous actress of the day and was exhibited in 1882 to critical acclaim while Manet was one of the most famous living artists.
The canvas has been owned by the same family for more than a century and for the last 20 years been on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
It was snapped up by a buyer in the front row who calmly fended off furious bidding on the telephone to clinch the picture for $65.13 million.
The previous auction record for a work of art by Manet was $33 million -- a self-portrait sold in 2010 at Sotheby's in London.
But Christie's failed to sell it's second most expensive lot, "Les constructeurs avec arbre" by French cubist painter Fernand Leger, which had been valued at $16-22 million after paltry bidding interest.
A spokeswoman initially told AFP that the painting had fetched $17.53 million but later apologized for any misunderstanding, saying it had failed to sell.
Wednesday's auction featured a number of cubist works, looking to capitalize on interest in a current cubism exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The exhibition features the private collection of billionaire philanthropist Leonard Lauder, son of the late cosmetics tycoon Estee Lauder.
Christie's evening auction of modern and impressionist art fetched more than $165 million compared to $422 million at rival Sotheby's on Tuesday evening.
Sotheby's highlights were a 1950 bronze by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti for $101 million and Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani's "Tete" for $70.7 million.