'Secret masterpiece' by Claude Lalanne sold in Paris

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'Secret masterpiece' by Claude Lalanne sold in Paris
Rape of Europa sold yesterday © osenat.

PARIS.- A monumental sculpture by the late French artist Claude Lalanne that sat on the grounds of a school for decades unknown to art lovers has fetched 1.24 million euros ($1.44 million) at auction, blowing past estimates.

The sale of "The Rape of Europa" on Sunday was the latest to underscore growing demand for the whimsical yet meticulous works by the French artist who died in 2019, after decades of creations with her artistic partner and husband Francois-Xavier.

A two-metre tall work cast in bronze, it depicts the Greek mythology legend of Zeus transformed into a bull to carry off the princess Europa to the island of Crete.

Lalanne designed it for the garden at the European Centre for Executive Development (CEDEP), a management school in Fontainebleau south of Paris, not far from her studio in the village of Ury.

"It is a rare and major work by Claude Lalanne, of which another cast, owned by the family, is currently shown in the Trianon Parc of the Chateau de Versailles," the couple's longtime gallerist, Jean-Gabriel Mitterrand, wrote in the sale catalogue.

The Osenat auction house called it a "secret masterpiece" from the artist and had forecast a final bid of 600,000 to 800,000 euros.

It is now headed to Miami after being bought by an American collector, a spokeswoman said.

The sale comes just weeks after a new auction record was set for Lalanne, when a delicate bronze and copper chandelier titled "Structure Vegetale" was sold by Christie's in Paris for 3.7 million euros.

And dozens of her and her husband's works are slated to be sold by Sotheby's in a series of auctions starting this month.

But a pair of cast concrete sculptures by Francois-Xavier, "Science" and "Law," estimated at 500,000 to 700,000 euros, were not sold at the Sunday auction, though Osenat said it had been approached by potential institutional buyers after the sale.

© Agence France-Presse

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