Wed, May 16, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Modigliani nude fetches US$157m at NY auction

‘MEASURED’:Sotheby’s officials said the overall sale was devoid of the spending frenzy of recent auctions, but added that it achieved a total within its estimates

Reuters, NEW YORK

The 1917 painting Nu couche (sur le cote gauche) by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani is displayed during a Sotheby’s auction in New York on Monday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

A nude portrait by Amedeo Modigliani on Monday sold for US$157.2 million at Sotheby’s, the fourth-highest price for any work of art at auction, but failing to set a new record for the artist.

Sotheby’s had estimated Nu couche (sur le cote gauche) to sell for more than US$150 million, which made the 1917 oil painting the highest-estimated work of art in auction history.

However, in merely meeting expectations and failing to set a record, even for a Modigliani, the canvas fell short of a handful of recently auctioned trophy works, most notably Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, which soared to US$450.3 million at rival Christie’s in November last year after several top-tier collectors competed furiously.

That work carried a presale estimate of about US$100 million.

Sotheby’s was quick to note, while the auction was still live, that Nu couche had achieved the highest price of any work in the 274-year-old auction house’s history.

In a sign of soaring prices at the art market’s highest echelons, the same work sold for US$27 million in 2003.

However, it could not be denied that only a handful of collectors at most bid for the work, which fell short of the US$170.4 million record for a Modigliani set in 2015.

Officials were relegated to characterizing the sale as “measured,” a tacit admission that it was devoid of the free-spending frenzy that has marked recent auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.

“It was not an exuberant room,” Sotheby’s cohead of Impressionist and modern art Simon Shaw told reporters afterward, but added that “it was an ordered, efficient sale, which achieved a total within its estimated range.”

The auction took in US$318.3 million, just beating the US$307.4 million low presale estimate. Of the 45 lots on offer, 71 percent found buyers.

Other highlights included Pablo Picasso’s Le Repos, which achieved US$36.9 million and beat its high estimate of US$35 million, and Claude Monet’s Matinee sur la Seine, which fetched US$20.55 million, at the low end of the US$18 million to US$25 million estimate.

Georgia O’Keefe’s Lake George With White Birch soared to US$11.3 million, or nearly twice the high estimate, but another Picasso, Femme au chien, estimated at US$12 million to US$18 million, failed to sell when no bids exceeded US$11 million.

The spring auctions were continue to continue yesterday, when Christie’s holds its Impressionist and modern art sale.

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