Modigliani painting poised to set new auction record



Paul Gauguin’s “Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?),” which was sold for approximately $300 million

Another record art deal is brewing in Manhattan. Christie’s November sale of 20th-century art will include some 30 paintings and sculptures, but one of those — Amedeo Modigliani’s 1917 masterpiece, “Nu Couche” (Reclining Nude) – could fetch more than $100 million.

“She is a woman of incredible elegance and dignity,” Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie’s global president and chief auctioneer, told Bloomberg. “It’s the Holy Grail of the artist’s work.”

Last May, Christie’s sold $1.7 billion of art in a single week, and set an auction record with Pablo Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O),” which sold for $179.4 million.

At that May auction Christie’s broke from tradition, organizing a hybrid auction that offered works across categories spanning the entire 20th century. Typically, Christie’s auctions impressionist and modern art during the first week of May and November, and postwar and contemporary art during the second week.

The private Swiss collectors who own the prized Modigliani agreed to work with Christie’s only if they organized another hybrid sale, Pylkkanen explained to Bloomberg.

Currently, Sotheby’s holds the auction record for Modigliani with the sale of “Tete,” a sculpture that sold for $70.7 million in New York in November 2014.

But when it comes to private transactions that number skyrockets. In 2012, hedge-fund billionaire Steven Cohen sold Modigliani’s “Reclining Nude With Blue Cushion” to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $121 million.

Modigliani’s “Reclining Nude With Blue Cushion” sold for $121 million

And the record sale for any artwork belongs to Paul Gauguin’s “Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?),” which was sold by the family of Swiss businessman Rudolf Staechelin to an unidentified citizen of Qatar for approximately $300 million.

Happy bidding.