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Sculpture of Pope fetches $A1.7 million

A provocative artpiece featuring a sculpture of Pope John Paul II crumpled under a black meteorite fetched $A1.7 million at a Christie's auction in New York.

The sculpture, La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour), by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, caused a stir in Poland last December when two Parliament members removed the meteorite.

The room-sized piece features a wax figure of the pope felled by the meteorite and holding his processional cross. The life-size figure of the pontiff is surrounded by shattered glass caused by the meteorite crashing through a skylight.

The winning bid far exceeded the pre-sale estimate of $A756,000 to $A1.1 million. The sculpture was purchased by an undisclosed bidder on Thursday.