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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 14:01 GMT
Unicef art auction breaks records
Leger's Le Moteur
Le Moteur shows the influence of cubism in 1918
An auction of impressionist and modern art in New York has raised more than 70m for the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef).

Christie's sold 25 pieces, collected by art lover Rene Gaffe during the 1920s, to raise the money for Unicef on Tuesday.

Portrait de Madame K by Joan Miro
Miro's Portrait de Madame K fetched 8.6m
One lot, the 1918 abstract painting Le Moteur by Frenchman Fernand Leger, set a world auction record for the artist of 11.4m.

A Christie's spokeswoman said of the painting: "It's very typical of his style, it's very, very mechanical with blocks of colour - you can see the cubism influence throughout the canvas."

Spanish surrealist Joan Miro made a major contribution to the fund, when his Portrait de Madame K also broke the artist's sale price record, fetching 8.6m.

And a bronze sculpture by Picasso also broke records, selling for almost 3.4m - the highest price paid at a world auction for a Picasso sculpture.

Surrealist champion

Collector Gaffe, who died in 1968, began his career as a journalist in his native Belgium and was founder of L'Echo Belge, a Belgian French-language daily.

Picasso sculpture
Picasso's bronze broke records for the artist's sculpture
He made his fortune in the perfume business but became a champion of Surrealist and Dada literature and art.

While collecting art he befriended many great artists including Picasso, Magritte, Miro and Ernst, as well as the writers Paul Eluard and Andre Breton.

Mr Gaffe's collection was bequeathed to Unicef by his second wife, Jeanne, who died in October 2000.

A total 74.5m was raised at the auction.

See also:

30 Jan 02 | Arts
Fine art season kicks off
16 Jul 01 | Business
Sotheby's downgraded to junk status
13 Jul 01 | Business
Auction houses merge
30 Jan 01 | Americas
Auction house cases dropped
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