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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Roy Lichtenstein's comic book-inspired painting "Sleeping Girl," is expected to fetch up to $40 million when it is sold at auction in New York in May, Sotheby's said on Friday.
The 1964 close-up painting of a sexy blonde woman is part of a series by Lichtenstein and considered one of the great works of post-war American art.
"Sleeping Girl is one of the great masterpieces of the 20th century, counting iconic depictions of women by Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi and Amedeo Modigliani among its peers," Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art, said in a statement.
"Lichtenstein's 'girls' are arguably his most desirable works today and 'Sleeping Girl' has been coveted since it was acquired in 1964, the year it was painted. It is astonishingly fresh and vibrant, as if it were painted yesterday."
The painting, which will go under the hammer in New York as part of Sotheby's Contemporary Art Sale on May 9, will be shown in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London and New York before the sale.
Other paintings from the series hang in museums around the world, including New York's Museum of Modern Art. Sleeping Girl has been owned by a private collector and has only been exhibited once, in Los Angeles, in 1989-1990.
Reporting by Patricia Reaney; editing by Paul Casciato