Modigliani Work Sells for $170.4 Million

The painting was part of a curated auction that surpassed $400 million.


Amedeo Modigliani’s “Nu Couché” sold Monday night for $170.4 million with fees at Christie’s New York.

Part of Christie’s “The Artist’s Muse: A Curated Evening Sale” auction, the 1917-18 canvas piece became only the tenth painting to ever fetch over $100 million in a public sale.

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani was an Italian painter (born in 1884) whose career was mostly based in France during the early 20th-century. Living a bohemian lifestyle, he was considered mysterious and known for erratic behavior, which included the destruction of much of his earlier art (famously describing the older works he ruined as, “Childish baubles, done when I was a dirty bourgeois,” referring to the influence of his upbringing as the son of merchants).

He died in early 1920, after suffering for some time from tuberculosis, drug addiction, and alcoholism. In life, it was said he was often unable to sell his work successfully.

Modigliani’s painting was the financial highlight of the Monday auction at Christie’s, in an evening that also saw Roy Lichtenstein’s 1964 painting “Nurse” sell for over $95 million. Christie’s has announced the auction’s sales to have totaled $491,352,000, which also included the purchase of Paul Gauguin’s “Thérèse” carving (for $30,965,000), and Paul Cézanne’s “L’homme à la pipe” watercolor ($20,885,000).

Despite surpassing $170 million in its sale, “Nu Couché” is only the second most-expensive one-piece art deal conducted by Christie’s, as it sold Pablo Picasso’s “Les femmes d’Alger” for $179,365,000 in May.

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