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MERMAID MAKES BIG SPLASH IN ART AUCTION AT SOTHEBY'S

The mermaid Ariel and her underwater friends made a big splash Saturday at a Sotheby's auction of celluloid images and watercolor backgrounds from the animated feature film "The Little Mermaid."

The two-part sale of artwork from Walt Disney's 1989 adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale brought $1.23 million, just above the high estimate of $1 million, said auctioneer David Redden.

"I love these kinds of sales," he said. "They do so well and everybody is upbeat. . . . You don't usually get sale rooms filled with families and small children."

The dining-room scene in which Ariel picks up a fork and starts combing her hair to the surprise of Prince Eric and his trusted adviser Grimsby sold for $25,300, highest bid of the morning sale, said Laura Stewart, a Sotheby's spokeswoman.

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