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One of American visual artist Man Ray’s best-known works has made history after selling for $12.4 million at Christie’s and setting the record as the most expensive photograph ever sold at auction.

Competitive bidding helped the iconic black-and-white image from 1924, “Le Violon d’Ingres,” smash and nearly triple the previous record. Its pre-sale estimate was $5 million to $7 million, the highest estimate for a single photograph in auction history, according to Christie’s. 

It was the top lot in a sale on May 14 of the Surrealist collection of Rosalind Gersten Jacobs and Melvin Jacobs. The image of model and Man Ray muse Kiki de Montparnasse juxtaposes her female curves with that of a violin — her naked back overlaid with f-notes —and is widely considered to be Ray’s most famous work. Born Emmanuel Radnitzky, Ray was a key member of the Dada and Surrealism movements.

Man Ray’s record-breaking “Le Violon d’Ingres,” 1924.

According to Christie’s, the Jacobs acquired the original print from Ray in 1962. It was sold alongside other artworks, photographs, jewelry, and posters from their art collection amassed over decades. Successful fashion retailers and art collectors, the couple befriended many Surrealist artists in the 1950s and 1960s.

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