February 13, 2009 / 7:05 PM / 10 years ago

Nude Madonna photo sells for $37,500 at auction

A portion of the full frontal nude photo of Madonna, taken in 1979 before she became famous, is seen in this handout photo. REUTERS/Christie's/Handout

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A full frontal nude photo of Madonna, taken in 1979 before she became famous, has sold at auction for $37,500 — more than double its pre-sale estimate.

The black and white photo of the pop music superstar, aged 20, was acquired by an unnamed European buyer at Christie’s in New York late on Thursday.

The picture, taken by photographer Lee Friedlander, was shot at a time when Madonna was a dancer trying to make ends meet in New York and answered a classified ad seeking a nude model. It had a pre-sale estimate of $10-15,000.

The photo and six others from the shoot later appeared in Playboy magazine in 1985 after Madonna found fame with hits like “Like a Virgin” and “Holiday”.

Christie’s said on Friday the photo sold for less than the $96,000 paid at auction in 2005 for a Helmut Newton photo of Madonna dancing on a bar with a beer bottle that was taken in 1990.

The nude Madonna photo auctioned on Thursday was one of some 150 images of fashion and celebrity icons from the collection of Leon and Michaela Constantiner.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant

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