A painting by French artist Yves Klein created with water, a blowtorch and two models is expected to bring up to $40m (€30.5m) at auction next month in New York, Christie's announced yesterday.
'FC 1' (pictured above) was executed a few weeks before the artist's death at age 34 and is considered by art experts to be his masterpiece.
The painting is poised to set an auction record for the artist at the Post War and Contemporary Art sale on May 8. An anonymous Swiss collector is offering it for sale.
His 'MG 9' holds the current record. It sold for $23.5m (€18m) at a Sotheby's auction in 2008.
Klein invited the media to observe the creation of FC 1, which was videotaped and featured in a documentary on the artist titled 'La Revolution Bleue'. It shows Klein dousing two models with water as they press their bodies against a fire-resistant board. As they step away, he points a blowtorch at the surface, and the moistened areas resist scorching.
The models then coat their bodies with paint and again press themselves against the flame-licked board, leaving impressions of their breasts and thighs. Klein then applies blue and splashes of pink pigment around the silhouettes.
The painting "embodies Klein's obsession with the irreconcilable concept of presence and absence, life and death," said Christie's art specialist Loic Gouzer.
It has been included in major museum retrospectives of the artist at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.