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Eerie Sculpture of Praying Hitler Fetches $17.2M

Basketball in water sells for $15.3M at Christie's sale
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 9, 2016 4:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – The highly anticipated art auction season arrived Sunday with a specially curated sale that included Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan's sculpture of a kneeling Hitler, which fetched a record price for the artist, and a ball suspended in a water tank by Jeff Koons. "Him," Cattelan's controversial sculpture of Hitler, appears to be a small child kneeling in prayer when approached from the rear. But from the front, the viewer comes face to face with the unmistakable likeness of Hitler. It sold for a record $17.2 million, reports the AP. The previous auction record for a work by Cattelan was $7.9 million.

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"One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank" is a 1985 sculpture by Koons that depicts a basketball suspended inside a vitrine of distilled water. It garnered just under $15.3 million, beating its $12 million estimate. Both works came up for auction for the first time at Christie's "Bound to Fail" themed sale. The themed auction "shines a spotlight on works that have purposefully pushed the envelope of what the art market would be willing to call 'successful' in the pursuit of creating something new and ground-breaking," says Christie's deputy chairman of post-war and contemporary art. In the case of Cattelan, the artist "defied the taboos of representation by disguising evil incarnate under a cloak of innocence," he says. (Read more art auction stories.)

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