The original painting of the Chinese Girl, thought to be the most reproduced print in the world, was sold for nearly £1 million today.
The work by Siberian-born artist Vladimir Tretchikoff raised £982,050 - nearly double its expected price - as part of a sale of South African art at Bonhams auction house.
Millions of reproductions of the picture, also known as the Green Lady because of the unusual blue-green skin tone of the subject, have been sold since it was painted in the 1950s.
A Bonhams spokesman said: "It's very exciting. Suddenly the market has decided they like what they can see with Tretchikoff."
The Bonhams spokesman added: "It's almost triple the £380,000 we sold his painting Lenka for last year.
"It shows he's beginning to close in on the other major figures on the South African art landscape, Irma Stern - whose picture Arab Priest we previously sold for £3 million - and Pierneef."
Pierneef's work Landscape, Stellenbosch sold for £713,250 and Stern's painting Congolese Beauty for £541,250 at the Bonhams auction today.
The identity of the Chinese Girl buyer was not known, but the painting will remain within Europe, the spokesman said.