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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 May, 2003, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Renoir sells for 14.5m
Dans les roses (Madame Leon Clapisson)
The painting was expected to make between $20 and $30m

A Renoir portrait of a woman sitting in her garden has sold for $23.5m (14.5m) at Sotheby's in New York on Tuesday.

The 1882 painting, Dans les roses (Madame Leon Clapisson) was bought by casino owner Steve Wynn, who will display the work in his Las Vegas gallery.

The Impressionist and modern art auction made a total of $65.6m (40.7m) but was short of the pre-sale estimate of between $70.9m (44m) and $99.4m (61.7m).

However, two important pieces, Giacometti's sculpture La Clairiere and Kazimir Malevich's Suprematist Painting, Rectangle and Circle, failed to sell.

The Giacometti was expected to go for between $8m (5m) and $10m (6.2m) while Malevich's painting was estimated at between $5m (3m) and $7m (4.4m).

But Sotheby's officials said they were delighted with the results sales at the first major fine art auction of the season and that keeping low estimates had paid off.

"We really believed you could damage the prospect of selling even a very fine work if it was overestimated," said David Norman, co-chairman of Impressionist and modern art.

Although only 72% of the 39 lots had been bought, 90% of those sold went for within or above their pre-sale estimates, Mr Norman added.

Works by Degas sold well. His painting Danseuse sold for $10.6m (6.6m) with Danseuses pres d'un portant fetching $3.9m (2.4m).

Pissaro's La route de Rocquencourt was the auction's number three lot, beating its upper estimate of $5m (3.1), with a sale of $5.6m (3.5).

New records were set for four artists, Max Liebermann, Paul Serusier, Alexander Archipenko and Andre Masson.

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