Modigliani nude painting fetches record $170.4M in NY

10 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chinese billionaire buys Modigliani painting ‘Nu Couche’ for world record US$170.4 million.

NEW YORK: A Modigliani nude painting was sold to an unnamed Chinese buyer at Christie’s on Monday for $170.4 million, the second-highest price ever for a work of art at auction, as deep-pocketed collectors continue to pay, and pay big, for some rare masterpieces up for sale in this year’s autumn auctions season. The final price for the 1917-18 portrait “Nu couché” (Reclining Nude) – under the hammer for the first time ever – was second only to Picasso’s “Les femmes d’Alger” (Women of Algiers) which sold for $179 million at Christie’s in May.

Modigliani’s 1917 “Nu Couche (Reclining Nude)” anchored Christie’s special, mixed-category sale titled “The Artist’s Muse,” which included 34 paintings and sculptures created from the 1860s through the 2000s. The evening tallied US$491.4 million, setting five auction records for artists including Gustave Courbet and Roy Lichtenstein, whose painting of a nurse sold for US$95.4 million. The Modigliani price was an auction record for the Italian artist. “Prices have reached the Promised Land,” billionaire collector Eli Broad said after the sale. “I can’t imagine it going much higher though.

Some half-dozen bidders competed for the canvas, which had remained in the same private collection for some 60 years and was offered as the highlight of a specially curated “Artist’s Muse” sale comprising 34 works in total. Can you?” Some resistance was already visible during the packed evening sale, which was part of a 10-day marathon in which more than US$2.1 billion of art is on offer at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips.

In a packed salesroom marked by deliberate but determined competition, bidding started at $75 million – already more than Modigliani’s auction record of $70.7 million – and ticked upwards in $5 million increments before an unidentified telephone bidder prevailed at $152 million. The results fell within Christie’s presale target range of US$442 million to US$540 million, but were 30 percent lower than the company’s first hybrid sale in May, “Looking Forward to the Past.” That auction tallied US$705.9 million, and a Pablo Picasso painting set a new auction record at US$179.4 million. While nearly 30 per cent of the “Artist’s Muse” offerings went unsold – Lucian Freud’s “Naked Portrait on a Red Sofa” was estimated at as much as $30 million but failed to sell – the auction took in $494.4 million in total.

Before the auction started, Jussi Pylkkanen, the auctioneer, announced that five guaranteed lots, including top works by Modigliani and Lichtenstein, were financially backed by third parties, a move that reduced Christie’s risk but could also eat into potential profit. Nodding to the sale’s unsold lots, Christie’s’ global president and auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen said that was the risk of “pushing the envelope”. But strong prices for top works that did sell bore witness to what Pylkkanen called “a masterpiece market” that was fomenting “extraordinary competition”. The museum was founded by Liu Yiqian, who frequently buys art with his American Express card “It was a sensational picture and it brought a sensational price,” said Guy Jennings, managing director of the Fine Art Fund in London and Christie’s former deputy chairman of Impressionist and modern art in New York. “It was the best painting Modigliani ever made.

Connery, a private art dealer, and Paul Gray, director of Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago and New York whose clients include hedge-fund manager Kenneth Griffin. Great works that haven’t been seen on the open market for decades, like the Modigliani, “created a huge amount of energy and bidding,” said Pylkkanen, Christie’s global president. Christie’s has jammed its Impressionist, modern and contemporary auctions into a single week, a strategy that worked for the company in May when it walked away with US$1.7 billion, almost twice rival Sotheby’s tally. Unlike the nude at Christie’s, Modigliani’s woman at Sotheby’s was fully robed in black, and at US$42.8 million, cost four times less. “It was straight forward: if the work was overestimated it didn’t sell,” Jennings said about the Christie’s sale. “The market has plateaued.

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