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Kneeling Hitler artwork fetches £11.9m

Do Not UseDo Not Use 9/05/2016
Maurizio Cattelan's Him © AP Maurizio Cattelan's Him

A sculpture of a kneeling Hitler by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan has sold for $17.2 (£11.9) million.

Jeff Koon's One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank: Employees inspect One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank by Jeff Koons © AP Employees inspect One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank by Jeff Koons

It kicked off a week of auctions in New York featuring modern, post-war and contemporary art at Christie's and Sotheby's.

A ball suspended in a water tank called, One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank by Jeff Koons was also up for sale

It sold for $15.3 (£10.6) million, just over its $12 (£8.3) million estimate.

Both works came up for auction for the first time and the sale is record-breaking for the Italian artist.

There are 39 works in the Christie's Bound to Fail themed sale.

Cattelan's controversial sculpture Him appears as a small child kneeling in prayer when approached from the rear. But from the front, the unmistakable likeness of Hitler comes into view.

Christie's describes the work as: "quite simply one of the most shocking and disquieting works of art to have emerged in the post-war era".

Cattelan added: "Hitler is everywhere, haunting the spectre of history; and yet he is unmentionable, irreproducible, wrapped in a blanket of silence.

"I'm not trying to offend anyone. I don't want to raise a new conflict or create some publicity; I would just like that image to become a territory for negotiation or a test for our psychoses."

The 2001 piece was included in the artist's retrospective at the Guggenheim in 2011.

It is made with human hair, wax and polyester resin.

The previous auction record for a work by Cattelan was $7.9m (£5.5m).

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