Lance Armstrong bikes raise $1.3m

Seven bicycles used by Lance Armstrong in his comeback season for July's Tour de France have raised $1.3m for charity at auction.

The bikes have frames designed by artists including the UK's Damien Hirst. They were sold at Sotheby's in New York two days ago, to anonymous buyers.

Hirst's bike featured dead butterflies and brought the most, selling for $500,000.

A time-trial bike stolen from Armstrong's team truck in February during the Tour of California, but retrieved three days later by police, sold for $130,000.

 "This auction exceeded our expectations and we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to those involved," said Armstrong in a statement.

The money will go towards Armstrong's cancer foundation. He survived the disease before winning the Tour de France seven times over a record-breaking seven consecutive years between 1999-2005.

"Parting with these bikes was not easy for me," Armstrong said. "I have a tradition of keeping each of the bikes I race."

Artist Damien Hirst famously raised £111.5m in a sale of his art at Sotheby's London in September, last year.

Value-wise, his art has been enjoying a steady return to form at the recession-hit auction block. Retribution, his 2006 pale blue and white butterfly painting, brought a healthy £542,000 in October.

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