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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Historic and contemporary photographs and works of art from the archives of the National Geographic Society are expected to fetch more than $3 million when they are sold for the first time at auction in December, Christie's said on Monday.
The December 6 sale, on the eve of the 125th anniversary of the society's founding, will include photos from the 1800s to the present, paintings by artists such as Andrew and Newell Convers Wyeth and works of art from the fields of geography, archaeology, wildlife and world cultures.
Newell Convers Wyeth's painting of two pirates, "The Duel on the Beach," is expected to be one of the top-grossing works with a pre-sale estimate of $800,000 to $1.2 million, while Steve McCurry's haunting photograph "Afghan Girl" could go under the hammer for as much as $50,000.
"The North American Indian," a record of traditional Native American culture by Edward S. Curtis with text and photographs, could sell for as much as $900,000.
"As we celebrate our past accomplishments and look forward to our new ones, we are thrilled to bring a selection of these special works of art to the public and enable them to share in the rich legacy of National Geographic," Maura Mulvihill, senior vice president of the society and director of the National Geographic Image Collection, said in a statement.
Many of the 11.5 million images in its collection of photographs, illustrations and paintings have never been published or exhibited, she added.
The National Geographic Society, based in Washington, D.C., is one of the world's largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Proceeds from the sale will be used to preserve the society's archives and to foster the careers of aspiring artists and photographers.
Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Eric Walsh