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Last Updated: Monday, 24 April 2006, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Bankrupt Refco sells prized art
Andy Warhol, Artist, New York City, August 20, 1969 - by William Avedon
This portrait shows artist Andy Warhol after he was shot in 1969
A highly collectable collection of 500 original photographic prints owned by bankrupt US brokerage Refco is due to go under the auction hammer on Tuesday.

The highly-prized prints include one of artist Andy Warhol fingering his scar after an attempt on his life in 1969.

The sale at Christie's in New York also includes paintings and sculptures.

Finance firm Refco, which sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last October, believes the sale "is in the best interests of creditors".

'Magnificent collection'

Photographs in the Refco collection, known to art experts worldwide, have had pride of place on the walls of the company's New York and Chicago offices for decades.

The photographs were acquired over 30 years by Frances Dimmer, former wife of ex-Refco chairman Thomas Dimmer, and the collection's curator, Adam Brooks.

Detail from Memphis by William Eggleston
Memphis by William Eggleston has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000

They were removed from company offices in November and December 2005.

"The Refco collection is highly prized by museums, galleries and private collectors alike," the firm said in a statement.

"We have seen a great deal of interest in the works and look forward to a successful sale of this magnificent collection."

Highlights include Richard Avedon's photograph Andy Warhol, Artist, New York City, August 20, 1969, which has an estimate of $100,000 (56,000) to $150,000.

And William Eggleston's Memphis, from 1969-70 has an estimated price of $40,000 to $60,000 on it.

'International review'

"The Refco collection is an outstanding assemblage of contemporary photographs," says Joshua Holdeman, international director of Christie's photographs department.

"The works together provide a highly international review of contemporary photography and its developing role as a fine-art medium."

Further Refco sales are planned at the auction house in Rockefeller Plaza on 5 May and 10 May.

Former Refco boss Phillip Bennett is accused by US investigators of hiding $430m in debts at the US brokerage before it floated on the stock market.

He denies any wrongdoing and has been released under a $50m bond.

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