Chinese collector splurges big on a Modigliani nude painting

Updated: 2015-11-10 15:25


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Chinese collector splurges big on a Modigliani nude painting

Christie's auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen auctions Amedeo Modigliani's Reclining Nude during a curated auction at Christie's entitled "The Artist's Muse" in New York November 9, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

Chinese collector Liu Yiqian spent 1.084 billion yuan ($170.4 million) on a Modigliani nude painting at Christie's in New York on Monday, a new record for a Modigliani piece, according to

It is also the second-highest price ever for a work of art at auction, second only to Pablo Picasso's Women of Algiers, which sold for $179 million at Christie's in May.

The piece, Reclining Nude, was created by Italian modernist painter Amedeo Modigliani during 1917-18. The artist is known for portraits and nudes in a modern style characterized by elongation of faces and figures.

Liu Yiqian, the man who founded the Long Museum in Shanghai with his wife, always makes a stir with his buying. He bought an imperial embroidered silk Thangka for about $45 million and a Doucai Chenghua "chicken cup" for $36 million last year.

Some half-dozen bidders competed for the canvas, which had remained in the same private collection for some 60 years and was offered as the highlight of a specially curated "Artist's Muse" sale, comprising 34 works in total.

In a packed salesroom marked by deliberate but determined competition, bidding started at $75 million - already more than Modigliani's auction record of $70.7 million - and ticked upwards in $5 million increments before a telephone bidder prevailed at $152 million.

The final price was $170,405,000 including Christie's' commission of just over 12 percent. The auction house had estimated the canvas would fetch more than $100 million.

While nearly 30 percent of the "Artist's Muse" offerings went unsold - Lucian Freud's Naked Portrait on a Red Sofa was estimated at as much as $30 million but failed to sell - the auction took in $494.4 million in total. That was right in the middle of the pre-sale estimate of $442 million to $540 million.

A new record was set for an auction sale of work by Roy Lichtenstein, the pop artist best known for his vibrant, cartoon-style works. His 1964 painting Nurse fetched $95.4 million, within the $80 million to $100 million estimate.

Another artist record was broken when Thérèse, a Gauguin sculpture, sold for just under $31 million, beating the $25 million estimate.

Christie's autumn auctions continue on Tuesday featuring works from the red-hot post-war and contemporary art category.

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