Updated: A Man Ray photograph didn't just break the record for the most expensive photo sold at auction, it obliterated it. "Le Violon d’Ingres" sold for $12.4 million at Christie's on Saturday, well above estimates of $5 million to $7 million and nearly triple the old record for a photo of $4.3 million, reports the Wall Street Journal. An unnamed French-speaking bidder got the iconic image, which features the back of a nude woman. Our original story on the photo from February follows:
A 1924 photograph of a nude woman taken by surrealist artist Man Ray is expected to enter the record books in a few months. When Christie's auctions the black-and-white "Le Violon d’Ingres" in May, it is expected to fetch between $5 million and $7 million, reports ArtNews. The previous record for a photo sold at auction is the $4.3 million paid for Andreas Gursky’s “Rhein II” in 2011, per the Wall Street Journal. The Man Ray image, widely described as "iconic" in coverage, is notable because the artist manipulated it in the darkroom and superimposed violin marking markings on his model's back.
"The reach and influence of the image, at once romantic, mysterious, roguish, and playful, has captured the minds of all for nearly 100 years," says Darius Himes, international head of photographs at Christie's, per CNN. He called it a "masterpiece" and "one of the most iconic works of the 20th century." The Journal offers an unusual example of its status: Actress Julia Fox showed off her tattoo of the image recently while on a date with Kanye West. The late Rosalind Gerson Jacobs, a former Macy's exec, bought the original print from Man Ray in 1962, and the estate belonging to her and husband Melvin Jacobs is now selling it. (Read more art auction stories.)