A STYLE ARTICLE TUESDAY INCORRECTLY REPORTED THE PRICE OF A DEGAS PASTEL AUCTIONED AT SOTHEBY'S LONDON ON MONDAY. "FEMME ASSISE DEVANT UN PIANO" SOLD FOR $4.8 MILLION. (PUBLISHED 07/01/99)

"Danseuse a Repos," a rare Edgar Degas pastel that has been cloistered in a French private collection since 1885, sold tonight for a record $27.9 million at Sotheby's London.

The staggering price eclipsed the previous Degas record of $11.8 million, set at Sotheby's New York in November 1996 for his bronze sculpture "Little Dancer at Fourteen Years." Tonight's price is also an auction record for any single work on paper.

Bidding opened at $6.4 million for the circa 1879 composition of a fully costumed ballerina resting on a bench and slightly bent over. The pastel retains its original artist-designed frame, another rarity.

Four bidders, including New York dealer David Nash, curiously pursued the picture far beyond its $11 million high estimate before the contest narrowed to two anonymous telephone bidders.

The heirs of Jules-Emile Bovin, the original owner, decided to sell the stunning heirloom as well as a second Degas pastel. "Femme Assise Devant un Piano" sold to Nash for a relatively modest $3.6 million (est. $4 million-$5.6 million).

Both images contributed to the $79.1 million tally for the evening, the highest total ever at Sotheby's London for a mixed-owner sale of impressionist and modern art.

CAPTION: Degas' "Danseuse a Repos" sold for $27.9 million at Sotheby's London.