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Vermeer portrait sells in London for 6.2 million pounds

LONDON (Reuters) - A painting of Saint Praxedis by Johannes Vermeer, the 17th-century Dutch master who painted "The Girl with the Pearl Earring," sold at auction on Tuesday for 6,242,500 pounds ($10.62 million), Christie's said on its Twitter feed.

The price achieved for one of only two Vermeers still in private hands was below the top of the guide price, which pegged the painting as being worth up to 8 million pounds.

"The Road to Calvary" by 16th-century Flemish Renaissance painter Pieter Breugel, another standout work in Christie's Old Masters Week sales, sold for 5,514,500 pounds, the auction house said.

It said 18th-century Venetian painter Francesco Guardi's "Venice, the Bacino di San Marco with the Piazzetta and the Doge’s Palace" sold for 9,882,500 pounds while a portrait of Lady Frances Marsham by 18th-century British portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds sold for 4,786,500.

The Vermeer came from the collection of the late American collector Barbara Piasecka Johnson, with proceeds going to her charitable foundation, Christie's said.

There had been debate for decades about the authenticity of the youthful work, which Vermeer painted when he was 23 and a recent convert to Catholicism.

Christie's said tests by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam of the paints that were used showed they were consistent with those in authentic Vermeers.

($1 =0.5877 British Pounds)

(Reporting by Michael Roddy; Editing by Toni Reinhold)

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