Page last updated at 09:20 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Dancer fetches 13.3m at auction

Sale room at Sotheby's
The work was bought by a private bidder from Asia

A bronze sculpture of a young ballet dancer by the French master Edgar Degas has sold for a record 13.3m ($19.2m) at auction.

The Little Dancer (Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans) was bought by a private bidder from Asia at Sotheby's auction house, in London.

Originally made from wax circa 1879-81, the sculpture is the only one to be exhibited during the artist's lifetime.

Sotheby's said the previous record for a Degas statue was $12.3m (8.5m).

'First test'

The sculpture was the highlight of Sotheby's sale of impressionist and modern art, which raised a total of 32.5m (46.8m).

Melanie Clore, co-chairman of impressionist and modern art at Sotheby's Worldwide, said the sale was the "first test" of the art market this year.

She said: "We're extremely pleased with the new world auction record price established for a Degas sculpture of 13.2m, an excellent price given that the same sculpture sold in 2004 for 5m.

"This is clear evidence that the market continues to respond to quality and rarity."

Other works for sale included Joan Miro's painting Femmes et oiseaux dans la nuit or Women and birds at night, which that sold for 2m ($2.9m).

Strassenszene or Street Scene, an oil painting by German Expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, fetched 5.4m ($7.8m).

The Little Dancer (Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans) was sold by businessman Sir John Madejski, the chairman of Reading football club.

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