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Dior Snaps up Avedon’s 'Dovima' Photo

Image of model with elephants sets record at Christie’s in Paris.

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PARIS — Christian Dior made the winning bid here Saturday for one of the most famous fashion images of all time: Richard Avedon’s 1955 photo “Dovima With Elephants.”

The image of Dovima, dressed in a Dior evening gown at the Cirque d’Hiver, went for 841,000 euros, or $1.1 million at current exchange rates.

“It is the most expensive photograph of this kind to have been sold in France,” said Matthieu Humery, specialist and head of photography sales at Christie’s in Paris, which auctioned 65 prints by Avedon, who died in 2004.

The Avedon sale netted 5.5 million euros, or $7.5 million, with proceeds going to The Richard Avedon Foundation in New York.

Other top earners from the sale included a portrait of a semiclad Stephanie Seymour, which went for 265,000 euros, or $362,989.

The prices reflect a robust market for photography in the French capital, which dubs each November “photo month.”

Organizers of the Paris Photo fair, which ended its five-day run Sunday, said this year’s edition was its most successful. Collectors were in town to view a mix of photography, from a $1 million André Kertész at New York gallerist Howard Greenberg’s booth to works by iconic French photographer Raymond Depardon at the Magnum stand.

“This year, there seems to be a return to vintage prints and pictures with an assured value,” said Magnum gallery director Valerie Fougeirol, who was senior director of Paris Photo for several years.

“People are less speculative and the market is still quite strong. The volume went down for a little while, but people like to collect fashion photography and contemporary or vintage prints,” Humery said.

Photography events spread to some 50 locations in Paris this month, and even cafés and stores got involved.

Jean Pigozzi signed books at Colette for his tome, “Catalogue Déraisonné,” published by Steidl Dangin and including snaps of famous friends such as Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and Jerry Hall. “My favorite picture is of Michael Douglas; he is a dear friend,” Pigozzi said.

“The market is definitely here,” said Humery, noting that in May, Christie’s in Paris will hold a sale of 30 photographs by artists Pierre and Gilles.

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