New York — A painting by René Magritte sold for $26.8m on Monday at a Sotheby’s auction in New York, setting a record for a work by the Belgian surrealist. The painting, Le principe du plaisir, topped the price fetched by La corde sensible, which was sold in February 2017 in London for $17.9m. Sotheby’s had estimated the painting sold on Monday as being worth $15m to $20m. It said seven collectors — an unusually high number — bid for it. Other paintings on offer on the second night of the autumn art auctions in New York also surpassed their estimated value.

Improvisation on Mahogany by Russian-born Wassily Kandinsky, fetched $24.2m, compared to its pre-sale estimate of $15m to $20m. A painting that was supposed to be one of the main attractions of the auction failed to lure a buyer. It was Marsden Hartley’s Pre-War Pageant, considered to be one of the first totally abstract works in the history of American art. It was estimated at $30m, nearly five times the record for that US...

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