Page last updated at 01:56 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

Ned Kelly painting sets Australian auction record

By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney

First Class Marksman (Menzies Art Brands)
The painting shows Ned Kelly in stylised body armour

A painting of the notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly has become the country's most expensive work of art ever bought at auction.

The work by Australian artist Sidney Nolan went for $4.8m (A$5.4m; £3.2m), smashing previous records. The buyer has not been named.

First Class Marksman shows the 19th Century bandit walking through the Australian bush with rifle raised.

He is wearing his trademark body armour with iron helmet and narrow eye slit.

In a country that likes to pride itself on its anti-authoritarianism, it is perhaps fitting that its most expensive piece of artwork should feature its most celebrated anti-hero, Ned Kelly - a rogue who regularly defied the colonial authorities.

Sidney Nolan (1917-1992) is one of Australia's most celebrated and internationally recognised artists.

It is believed that he completed 27 paintings of Ned Kelly and this is the only one that is not on display at the National Gallery in Canberra.

Suffice to say, the Kelly collection is its most popular Australian attraction.

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