“La Jeune fille sophistiquee (Portrait de Nancy Cunard)” sculpted by renowned Romanian artist Constantin Brâncuși, a 31-inch-tall bronze piece estimated at more than USD 70 million, put up for sale at Christie’s Impressionist and modern art auction in New York last evening, May 15, has been sold for USD 71 millio, thus breaking a new record.
The statuette is described as a unique sculpture that Brâncuși designed in Paris in 1928, but concluded its final shape in metal in 1932.
The work features the head of a woman with a ponytail. The sculpture was inspired by the blue-eyed English heiress, Nancy Cunard, a civil rights champion and wartime journalist who played tennis with Ernest Hemingway and was a muse to Surrealist artist Andre Breton.
The American couple Elizabeth and Frederick Stafford was in Paris in 1955 when they bought the work directly from the artist for about USD 5,000. Elizabeth was a young woman from New Orleans, US, while her husband Frederick was a Jewish immigrant from Romania. According to Elizabeth and Frederick Stafford’s daughter, her parents visited Brâncuși’s studio in Paris on a tip from Frederick’s Romanian friend and they bought the sculpture as a gift for Elizabeth’s 28th birthday.
Brancusi set the last selling record last year, when one of his works, “La muse endormie” (1913) was sold with USD 57.4 million, which was an auction record for the Romanian-born artist.