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Record price paid for Koons' purple balloon piece

A sculpture resembling a massive purple balloon model by Jeff Koons has sold for $26.2 million Cdn, a record auction price for a work by the American artist.

A sculpture resembling a massive purple balloon model by Jeff Koons has sold in London, England, for $26.2 million Cdn, a record auction price for a work by the American artist.

Balloon Flower (Magenta) is 2.75 metres high, made of highly polished chromium stainless steel and looks like a balloon twisted into a flower shape.

The piece was picked up at a Christie's auction late Monday at a sale of post-war and contemporary art.

Balloon Flower, previously owned by Dallas couple Howard and Cindy Rachofsky, was sold to an anonymous buyer through a telephone bid.

Bought in 1998, the sculpture was the centrepiece in the middle of a pond at the Rachofsky estate.

The piece is part of Koons's "Celebration" series of high-tech sculptures inspired by childhood memories. Four other versions of Balloon Flower exist in four different colours.

At the same acution, Naked Portrait With Reflection by Lucian Freud — described by Christie's as one of his most important pieces to be offered at auction — fetched $23.9 million Cdn.

The painting shows a nude model reclining on a beaten-up sofa.

This is the second highest price for any of Freud's paintings and comes a month after his life-sized portrayal of a sleeping, naked woman set a new world-record price for a work by a living artist.

His 1995 Benefits Supervisor Sleeping sold for about $34.2 million Cdn.

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