Modigliani painting fetches record $170.4M
“Reclining Nude” was sold at Christie’s in Manhattan after a protracted bidding battle. Considered one of his best known works, the 1917-18 painting nearly created a scandal when it was first exhibited in Paris. It depicts an unknown nude model reclining on a crimson couch and blue cushion.
The previous auction record for a Modigliani was $71 million.
Pablo Picasso’s painting “Women of Algiers (Version O)” set the record for the highest sum ever paid for an artwork at auction. It sold for $179.4 million at Christie’s in May.
A Lichtenstein work not seen on the market for 20 years also is on tap. “Nurse,” which has a stellar exhibition and provenance history, is estimated to bring $80 million, exceeding the 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.”
Christie’s expects to sell at least $1 billion of art over a series of evening, day and online sales this week.
“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.”
Spirited bidding also is expected for two major works by Gaugin from his Tahiti period.
“Therese,” a carved wooden figure of a Tahitian female, could set an auction record for a sculpture by the artist if it sells for its presale estimate of $18 million to $25 million.
The other Gauguin, “Young Man with a Flower,” is a painting of a Tahitian youth wearing a white shirt, loose cravat and a white blossom tucked behind his ear. Christie’s estimates it could bring $12 million to $18 million.
The current auction record for a Gauguin painting is $40.3 million.
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 and estimated to bring as much $25 million. Christie’s said interest in Picasso’s late period musketeer portraits has grown dramatically in recent years.
Also of interest are two works by Lucian Freud.
“Naked Portrait on a Red Sofa” is a portrait of the artist’s daughter, the fashion designer Bella Freud. Its pre-sale estimate is $20 million to $30 million. One of a series of portraits of his daughters, it is the first time it’s being offered at auction. AP