Rabbit by Jeff Koons on display ahead of its sale at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary ArtImage copyright

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Jeff Koons’ Rabbit was sold as part of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art auction in New York

A sculpture by US pop artist Jeff Koons has sold for $91.1m (£71m), breaking the record price for a work by a living artist.

Christie’s in New York sold Rabbit – a 41in (104cm) steel cast of an inflatable created in 1986 – for more than $20m over its estimated price.

It beats the previous record set by British artist David Hockney in November.

The buyer was in the audience for the auction, but has not been named.

On its website Christie’s described Rabbit as “cute, sinister, cartoonish, imposing, vacuous, sexy, chilling, dazzling and iconic”.

It is one of Jeff Koons’ most well-known pieces. The US artist’s sculptures have provoked controversy for decades after he emerged as a leading figure in New York’s art scene in the 1980s.

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Media captionThe Gompertz guide to… Jeff Koons

Koons previously held the record price for a living artist’s work for his piece Balloon Dog (Orange).

But he was overtaken last year by Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), which sold for just over $90m (£70m) at the same auction house.

The sale comes in the same week a Claude Monet Haystacks painting sold in New York for $110.7m – a record for the French artist.

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