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Raphael Drawing Sells For $48 Million At UK Auction, Sets Records

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LONDON — A drawing by Raphael and a Rembrandt portrait have set records and together sold for almost 50 million pounds ($82 million) at an auction in London.

Christie's auction house said Wednesday that Raphael's "Head of a Muse" fetched 29.2 million pounds ($47.5 million), double its pre-sale estimate, at Tuesday's sale. It is one of the highest prices ever paid for an Old Master at auction and a record for a work on paper.

The work – a study for a fresco in the Vatican – was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder from an unidentified private seller.

"(It) offers us a glimpse into the working mind of a genius; it presents us with the immediacy of his thoughts and ideas, capturing the precise moment at which the artist's hand and mind were applied to paper," said Benjamin Peronnet, head of Old Master and 19th-Century Drawings at Christie's.

A portrait by Dutch master Rembrandt also fetched a record price for the artist at auction, selling for 20 million pounds ($32.7 million).

"Portrait of a Man, Half-Length, with his Arms Akimbo" once hung in the president's office at Columbia University but has not been seen in public for almost 40 years.

Columbia sold the painting in the 1970s. Christie's did not identify the current seller, saying only that the painting was in "a distinguished private collection."

The previous record price for a Rembrandt was 19.8 million pounds ($28.7 million at the time) paid for "Portrait of a Lady Aged 62" at a Christie's sale in 2000.

The prices include buyer's premium.

The sale made a total of 68.4 million pounds ($111.8 million).