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PARIS (Reuters) - A bronze cast of French 19th century sculptor Auguste Rodin's famous "The Kiss" was bought by a U.S. collector for 2.2 million euros ($2.5 million) at a Paris auction on Tuesday.
The auction house, Binoche et Giquello, said in a statement the work sold at more than 10 percent above its top estimate, and set a record price for a Rodin cast made after the sculptor's death.
The 85 cm-high (33.5 inch) cast was part of a sale of five small to medium-size Rodin bronzes from the collection of late French art dealer Jean de Ruaz. It was produced in 1927, ten years after Rodin's death, by the same Alexis Rudier foundry that had cast many of Rodin's pieces.
The auction house said the private American collector, who had bid via the phone, also bought a cast of another Rodin statue of a kissing couple - "Eternal Spring" - for 693,000 euros, nearly double its estimate.
Three smaller casts also sold for more than double their estimate to French and European collectors at prices between 95,000 and 190,000 euros.
"The Kiss" ("Le Baiser") is one of Rodin's best known works, along with "The Thinker" and "The Burghers of Calais".
The white marble version of the work housed in Paris' newly renovated Rodin Museum is nearly 2 meters high. Miniaturized bronze casts are highly popular with collectors, but Rodin casts of high quality and undisputed pedigree are rare.
Rodin's work has been widely counterfeited, notably by convicted forger Guy Hain, who in the 1990s produced thousands of fake bronze Rodins, often using original Rodin plaster casts and the Rudier stamp.
Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Matthew Lewis