World|art & entertainment|May 15, 2018 / 03:02 PM
Modigliani painting fetches record $157m at auction

AKIPRESS.COM - Amedeo Modigliani’s masterpiece “Nu couché” was sold for $157.2m in New York on Monday evening putting it among the most valuable artworks sold at auction.

The oil painting of a reclining nude by the Italian artist was valued at $150m before the Sotheby’s sale, the highest estimate placed on a work of art at auction, according to the company, FT reported.

Bidding opened at $125m and moved in increments of $2m to $5m in the first few minutes. The hammer value of lot 18, the price before fees that a buyer will pay to Sotheby’s for its services, was $139m. The painting last sold in 2003 for just under $27m.

The $157m price means the Modigliani is the fourth most expensive artwork sold at auction, before adjusting past sales for inflation, according to a spokesperson for the auction house. It was also the most expensive work sold at Sotheby’s. The auction house declined to disclose who had purchased “Nu couché”, which was recently part of a comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work at the Tate Modern in Britain.

Only a handful of artists have sold at auction for more than $150m, including a Leonardo da Vinci, a Pablo Picasso and now two pieces from Modigliani. Last year, rival Christie’s sold the last da Vinci in private hands for a record $450m.

“$100m is suddenly kind of boring,” said Lisa Schiff, the founder of art adviser SFA Advisory. “Those are huge numbers.”

The Modigliani painting was the high point of the Sotheby’s sale, which took place in front of a standing room only audience at the auction house on New York’s Upper East Side. The evening marked the start of the twice-yearly contemporary and modern art auctions and came days after Christie’s blockbuster $832.6m sale of art and other items from the private collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller.

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