Page last updated at 17:03 GMT, Sunday, 18 January 2009

Nude Madonna could fetch $15,000

The picture was later sold to Playboy magazine

A nude photograph of pop star Madonna taken in 1979 could fetch up to $15,000 when it is sold next month, auction house Christie's has said.

The explicit black and white picture was taken when Madonna was a dancer struggling to make ends meet.

She replied to a newspaper advert by celebrated American photographer Lee Friedlander, who shot her for a series of nudes he was working on.

Christie's has valued the picture at $10-15,000 (7-10,000).

Matthieu Humery, head of Christie's photography department, said the picture was "probably the most explicit" shot Friedlander took of the future pop icon.

She was a good professional model
Lee Friedlander, photographer
"For Friedlander it is a very typical way of taking pictures of a woman," he added. "He likes very natural women. There's not a hint of glamourising.

"That's what makes it powerful."

Friedlander has said of the photo session that Madonna "seemed very confident, a street-wise girl.

"She told me she was putting a band together but half the kids that age are doing that. She was a good, professional model."

The photograph, and five others taken at the same session, were later sold to Playboy for a much higher sum than the $25 (17) Madonna was paid for her modelling.

Style icons

Another, later photo of the star, by Helmut Newton, is also up for auction, with a similar estimate of $10-15,000.

In that shot, which was also sold to Playboy, Madonna is in a short red dress, while a man kneels beside her, contemplating her stockings.

The photos are among 150 images by some of the biggest names in photography that are being sold from the collection of Leon and Michaela Constantiner, who began collecting photographs of glamour and style icons in the early 1990s.

Last month, a series of photographs of Marilyn Monroe from the couple's collection were auctioned for nearly $150,000 (101,826).

The latest auction takes place in New York on 12 February.

Other famous names whose portraits are for sale include Stephanie Seymour, Linda Evangelista, Joan Crawford and Lana Turner.

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