Modigliani's Reclining Nude Sells for $157.2 Million at Auction

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(Bloomberg) -- An Amedeo Modigliani painting of a nude fetched $157.2 million on Monday in New York.

The 1917 “Nu couche (sur le cote gauche)” depicts a reclining naked woman from behind, one leg bent, looking calmly over her shoulder at the viewer. Estimated at a season-high $150 million, it was the star lot of Sotheby’s auction of Impressionist and modern art. (Prices include the buyer’s commission; estimates don’t.)

The painting is the largest by Modigliani, who died in 1920 at age 35. It was the cover lot of an acclaimed exhibition of the artist’s famous nudes at Tate museum in London that ended April 2.

The seller, Irish bloodstock billionaire John Magnier, had purchased it for $26.9 million in a 2003 Christie’s auction.

Magnier owns Coolmore Stud, the world’s biggest thoroughbred breeder. His wife Susan is responsible for choosing the works that make up their art collection, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. She’s also responsible for naming all of the horses that run in Coolmore’s colors, the person said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Lately, the steeds have been named for artists, including one promising colt named Amedeo Modigliani.

Another Modigliani nude sold for an artist auction record of $170.4 million in 2015 at Christie’s. Its buyer was the Long Museum in China, founded by billionaire Liu Yiqian.

Earlier in the auction, a Picasso sold by Sue Gross, the ex-wife of money manager Bill Gross, fetched $36.9 million, exceeding the high estimate. The 1932 work, “Le Repos,” is a portrait of Picasso’s lover Marie-Therese Walter. The Sotheby’s auction continues.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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