Playboy artwork sells at New York auction

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Salvador Dali and Hugh Hefner
Image caption,
Salvador Dali (l) was 84 at the time of his death, the age Hugh Hefner (r) is now

A Dali watercolour of a reclining nude that once hung in Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's bedroom has fetched $266,500 (£168,500) at a New York auction.

The nude, which featured in a 1967 issue of Playboy, was among 125 artworks owned by the magazine to go under the hammer at Christie's.

Mouth No. 8, a 1966 oil painting of a scarlet-lipsticked mouth by pop artist Tom Wesselmann, sold for $1.9m (£1.2m).

Wednesday's sale included 80 photos and 24 cartoons.

Nearly all the items up for grabs had appeared in the magazine, first published in 1953.

The Dali watercolour was part of a 1967 issue that asked artists to create art inspired by Playboy's "Playmate" models.

Sold to an anonymous bidder, the piece had been expected to fetch no more than $150,000 (£95,000).

Wesselmann's work, part of a series the artist began in 1965, sold for slightly less than expected.

Image caption,
Tom Wesselmann's Mouth No. 8 had been expected to fetch between $2m and $3m

Yet Aaron Baker, curator of the Playboy Art Collection, still called it a great example of his work "from his best period".

In an interview last month, Playboy editor-in-chief Hefner said the magazine had blurred the lines between "fine" and "popular" art.

"Before Playboy and a few other places, commercial art was essentially... very realistic," the 84-year-old said.

"We introduced into commercial illustration the whole notion of everything from abstract to semi-abstract to stuff that you found on a gallery wall."

According to Baker, the sale represented a fraction of Playboy's archive of 5,000 contemporary works and more than 20 million photographs.

The archive is currently held at a storage building in Chicago, where Playboy Enterprises is based.

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