A rare wooden sculpture of a Tahitian girl by Paul Gauguin sold for $11.3 million at auction Tuesday.
The "Young Tahitian" bust, last seen by the public in 1961, had been estimated to bring $10 million to $15 million, the Sotheby's auction house said.
The sculpture is of a serene-looking Tahitian girl wearing large earrings and a necklace of coral and shells the French artist collected and strung himself. It's the only known fully worked three-dimensional bust he made.
Gauguin, a post-Impressionist master, spent many years in Tahiti painting the island's beautiful women, flowers and lush tropical landscape.
He presented the sculpture, "Jeune tahitienne" in French, to a friend's 10-year-old daughter in 1894 after promising her he would bring her a gift from the South Seas.
Many years later, that girl, Jeanne Fournier, entrusted a Dominican priest to sell the sculpture. On June 28, 1961, it was consigned to a Sotheby's auction in London.
The 9 1/2-inch sculpture had been in the possession of the current New England owner since. The owner's name hasn't been disclosed.
The current record for a Gauguin artwork is $40.3 million for "L'homme a la hache," or "Man with the ax," an oil on canvas that sold at Christie's auction house in New York in November 2006.
The latest auction coincides with the "Gauguin: Maker of Myth" exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It is the first major exhibition of the artist's career in the United States in about 20 years.
A Gauguin painting at the gallery, "Two Tahitian Women," was attacked by a visitor there early last month. Conservators determined the painting, which was valued at $80 million and was covered by plastic glass, sustained no damage after the visitor tried to pull it off a wall and hit it.
The painting, on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was returned to the display days later.