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Lehman Brothers Art Auctioned Off In NYC

Auctioneer Tobias Meyer auctions off Robert Longo's  "Untitled (November 2)" and other art from Lehman Brothers' collection at Sotheby's on September 25, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

Auctioneer Tobias Meyer auctions off Robert Longo’s “Untitled (November 2)” and other art from Lehman Brothers’ collection at Sotheby’s on September 25, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (AP) —┬áLehman Brothers may have blundered its way to disaster on Wall Street, but at least the bank’s art curators knew what they were doing.

An auction of contemporary artworks held by the failed investment firm and its former subsidiary, Neuberger Berman, brought in nearly $12.3 million Saturday, according to Sotheby’s.

The auction house said many of the works sold for far more than what Lehman and Neuberger paid. Profits will help pay the bank’s many creditors.

Top sellers at the Manhattan auction included an ink and acrylic work by the Ethiopian artist Julie Mehretu called “Untitled 1,” which fetched a little over $1 million, and Liu Ye’s oil painting, “The Long Way Home,” which sold for $962,500.

Art in the collection once hung in Lehman’s Manhattan headquarters, but the works weren’t acquired simply to beautify the offices of executives and impress clients. Lehman and Neuberger Berman both purchased art as an investment.

Neuberger’s curators especially had a reputation for buying carefully from up-and-coming artists who later became far more acclaimed. The firm’s co-founder, Roy Neuberger, was a major collector who established the Neuberger Museum of Art on the campus of the State University of New York in Purchase.

Several of the items in the auction brought record prices for works by their artists.

“Invisible Man (Two Views),” by Glenn Ligon, sold for $434,500, more than double what Sotheby’s experts had predicted.

Lehman’s bankruptcy was the largest in U.S. history, in total dollars lost. Neuberger Berman, which had merged with Lehman in 2003, spun back off again after the bankruptcy.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)