Rene Magritte's L'explication headlined Sotheby's February 3 surrealist art evening sale in London, achieving £3.7m ($5.6m).
The work dates to 1952 and is typical of the artist's unsettling style, showing a wine bottle morphing into a carrot.
It was described prior to the sale as "an important example of Magritte's theory of 'elective affinities' in which he explored the idea that the combination of two related objects could create a poetic dynamic just as intense as the combination of two completely incongruous objects."
The piece is the largest of the four variations on this composition.
Yves Tanguy's Deux fois du noir (Twice Black) was another highlight, achieving £2.1m ($3.2m).
Tanguy was invited into the surrealist movement by Andre Breton in 1925 and swiftly established himself as one of its most innovative and exceptional proponents.
Sotheby's comments: "The objects which inhabit the ambiguous space of Deux fois du noir indeed seem reliant upon objective reality and yet far removed from any specific reference.
"With a refined sense of mystery, Tanguy presents in the current work a brilliant hyper-reality that embodies the aims of the Surrealist movement."
The sale took place on the same evening as Sotheby's impressionist and modern art auction, the biggest ever held in London.
Last year Magritte's Le beau monde realised a record £7.9m ($11.9m) at Sotheby's.
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