Chinese Taxi Driver Turned Billionaire Bought Modigliani Painting

10 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chinese Taxi Driver Turned Billionaire Bought Modigliani Painting.

A painting by early 20th-century Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani—‘Nu couché’ (reclining nude)—was sold on Monday night for $170.4 million at Christie’s in New York. Collectors could be forgiven for getting whiplash Monday at a Christie’s sale that saw bidders offer up feverish prices for some art trophies yet sniff at others altogether — a rollicking volatility that could portend a market nearing its peak. Speaking by telephone from Shanghai, the Chinese collector said he planned to bring the work back to the city, where he and his wife have two private museums. “We are planning to exhibit it for the museum’s fifth anniversary,” he said. “It will be an opportunity for Chinese art lovers to see good artworks without having to leave the country, which is one of the main reasons why we founded the museums.” Bidding by telephone, Mr. The price established a new auction high for the Italian modernist painter, who is known for painting demure women with swan-like necks and opaque eyes. The bidding was palpably tense, with six people vying for the lot, and it took nine minutes to sell, with the winning bid coming from a Chinese buyer on the phone.

Modigliani’s 1917-1918 view of a nude brunette with rosy cheeks splayed across a red coverlet was expected to sell for around $100 million — the going rate for an A-list art trophy nowadays — but seven bidders pushed the price much higher. The seller of the Modigliani, Laura Mattioli Rossi, the daughter of the Italian collector Gianni Mattioli, was guaranteed at least a $100 million minimum price. At one point as bids paused around $140 million, a young Korean dealer Hong Gyu Shin, who once bid $100 million for a Francis Bacon painting, surprised Christie’s packed Rockefeller Plaza saleroom by jumping into the competition.

Liu’s winning bid, the painting became the 10th work of art to reach the elite nine-figure club for works sold at auction. “Modigliani’s works already have a pretty established value on the market,” Mr. Just before the sale, Christie’s announced that a third party had stepped forward to share the risk – as well as any proceeds above the guaranteed price. A Roy Lichtenstein painting not seen on the market for 20 years also set a world record for the artist. “Nurse” sold for $95.3 million, almost doubling the previous auction record for the pop artist of $56 million. Impressionist, modern and contemporary art by well-known artists “do not require a tremendous amount of aesthetic or intellectual risk on the part of the collector,” said Sarah Lichtman, assistant professor of design history at Parson School of Design. “They are beautiful paintings — some even exceptional as is the Modigliani — but they are tried and true.” “There is clearly good appetite among collectors for exceptional works of art offered with appropriate estimates,” said Brook Hazelton, president of the Americas for Christie’s. “This is a very broad and globally diverse market at the moment, with strong interest in paintings, sculpture and works on paper from the $10,000 level straight up to multimillion-dollar masterpieces at the top end.” “Therese,” a carved wooden figure of a Tahitian female, brought in a record $30.9 million, topping its presale high estimate of $25 million. The winners, who founded their own Long Museum in Shanghai, bid by telephone. “Flashy works did well, whether or not they were good,” said dealer Asher Edelman afterward, “but I think this could be the top of the market because as soon as the flashy guys leave, we’re all going to feel it immediately.”

An arresting pop art work by Roy Lichtenstein, Nurse, from 1964, also defied expectations, selling for $95.4 million, with fees, to another phone buyer, well above its $80 million estimate – despite the lack of a “speech” or “thought bubble” that typically drives up the price of Lichtenstein works. Over the years, they have built a vast collection of both traditional and contemporary Chinese art, much of which is displayed in their two museums in Shanghai: the Long Museum Pudong, which opened in 2012; and the Long Museum West Bund, which opened last year. But it was Modigliani’s 1917-18 canvas, Nu Couché, that was the star lot around which Christie’s built its themed “Artist’s Muse” auction, designed to attract international buyers of the world’s most expensive art. Among other highlights of “The Artist’s Muse” sale is Pablo Picasso’s “Man with a Sword,” a self-portrait of the artist as a musketeer created in 1969.

Liu broke a record he had set months earlier when he paid $36.3 million at a Sotheby’s sale for a tiny Ming dynasty porcelain cup known as a “chicken cup.” Soon after, he caused an uproar after a photograph that showed him sipping tea from the antique cup spread online. Liu reportedly paid with an American Express credit card, earning him many millions of reward points. “Nu Couché” will be the most expensive artwork in the couple’s collection, Mr.

In its preview exhibition, Christie’s positioned the Modigliani near Lucian Freud’s painting of his nude daughter Bella, Naked Portrait on a Red Sofa. The sale propelled Modigliani into the $100 Million at Auction Club, whose members include Picasso (three times), Bacon, Giacometti (three times), Warhol and Munch. On Tuesday, Christie’s is offering Freud’s “Brigadier,” a portrait of Andrew Parker Bowles, the former husband of Camilla Parker-Bowles, now the wife of Prince Charles. In the winter of 1918-19, a desperate Modigliani offered to sell the entire contents of his Paris studio – which may well have included Christie’s Nu Couché – to the British writers Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell, for €100 pounds, or $300 (roughly $4,700 today).

It was on view at the artist’s 2012 retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery in London and shows the career soldier wearing his sumptuous army brigadier uniform.

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