'Bea Arthur Naked' portrait sells for $1.9 million

May 16, 2013 at 5:14 PM
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NEW YORK, May 16 (UPI) -- A painting depicting late actress Bea Arthur nude from the waist up sold for nearly $2 million at a New York auction.

Christie's auction house said the John Currin 1991 painting, "Bea Arthur Naked" -- which depicts the "Golden Girls" and "Maude" actress topless as an elderly woman -- was purchased by an anonymous bidder over the phone for $1.9 million Wednesday, the New York Post reported Thursday.

The painting of Arthur, who never sat for the portrait, was controversial when it was unveiled in 1991, with critics calling it misogynist and supporters labeling it a feminist statement about confidence and age.

Christie's spokesman Koji Inoue called the painting "visually lasting."

"It's historically significant -- it's radical to sexualize someone people think of as asexual," spokesman said. "The painting has a visual toughness to it -- but it's also fun."

Arthur died at age 86 in April 2009.

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