VIENNA (AP).- A painting by Egon Schiele sold for euro4.4 million ($6.1 million) on Tuesday, a sizable sum but below estimates of its worth.
"Procession" depicts three women in different stages of their lives and dates back to 1911, when the Austrian artist known for his sexually provocative pictures was just 21 years old.
It belonged to an unidentified American art collector and was valued between euro3.5 million ($4.8 million) and euro7 million ($9.6 million) in the run-up to bidding in Vienna's packed im Kinsky Kunst Auktionen GmbH auction house.
In the end, the hammer price which excludes commission and taxes was euro3.5 million. Bidding started at euro2 million ($2.8 million).
Director Otto Hans Ressler said he was pleased with the sale, adding the market was healthy but that the painting was "great but difficult" to grasp.
"It's, of course, a terrific success that we were able to sell the painting," Ressler told The Associated Press. "I was incredibly happy about the wide range of bidders. This wasn't a lonely affair."
Elisabeth Leopold, widow of the late head of Vienna's Leopold Museum, said she hoped the unidentified buyer would make "Procession" available for an extensive Schiele exhibit next fall.
"Seen on its own, I'd say this is a very mysterious picture out of a fairy tale" she said, adding that Schiele was very experimental in 1911 and that "Procession" needed to be appreciated in relation to other works he created around this time.