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    Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

    A view of the packed saleroom.

    Amadeo Modigliani’s Nu Couche (Sur le cote gauche) sold for $157.2 million at Sotheby’s in New York last night.  This is the highest price in Sotheby’s auction history and nearly six times the price paid for the same painting when it was sold by casino mogul Steve Wynn in 2003.  The seller this time round is believed to be the Irish horse trainer John Magnier of Coolmore Stud.  Modigliani now belongs to a rarefied league of only three artists to break the US$150 million barrier at auction, along with Pablo Picasso and Leonardo da Vinci.

    A quarter of all sold works at the Impressionist  and Modern Art evening sale were acquired by Asian private collectors.  Those works were led by Pablo Picasso’s dreamy 1932 portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, Le Repos, which made $36.9 million. A portion of the proceeds from the work will go to charity through The Sue J. Gross Foundation. The painting last sold at auction in 2000 for $7.9 million.  The evening sale achieved $318.3 million.

    (See post on for April 24, 2018)


    Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

    Amedeo Modigliani Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) Signed Modigliani (lower left)

    Modigliani’s largest painting – Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) – is estimated to sell for more than $150 million at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in New York on May 14.  This is the highest estimate ever placed on a work of art at auction.  Nu couché was acquired by the present owner at auction in 2003 for $26.9 million.  The seller is believed to be Irish bloodstock billionaire John Magnier  who owns Coolmore Stud, the world’s biggest breeder of thoroughbred racehorses. His wife Susan co-owns a promising three-year-old colt  named Amedeo Modigliani.  It was previously owned by casino mogul Steve Wynn.

    In 2015, another reclining nude from the series sold at auction for $170.4 million, at the time marking the second-highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction.

    Painted a century ago, Nu couché is the greatest work from the iconic series in which Modigliani reinvented the nude for the Modern era. Upon their debut exhibition in 1917, these striking and sensual images stopped traffic – quite literally – and prompted the police to close the show. Today, the series is recognized as one of the seminal achievements in Modern painting. The shock and awe that Modigliani’s nudes continue to elicit was evident most recently during Tate Modern’s celebrated retrospective of the artist’s work that included Nu couché.   The work is the largest painting of Modigliani’s entire oeuvre – measuring nearly 58 inches / 147 centimeters across – and the only one of his horizontal nudes to contain the entire figure within the canvas.

    Most of the 22 reclining nudes from the series are found in museums, with particular depth in the United States: the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York each hold three examples. Outside of the United States, institutions with reclining nudes include the Long Museum in Shanghai and The Courtauld Gallery in London.