A Modigliani painting of an outstretched nude woman sold on Monday night for $170.4 million, the second-highest price ever paid for a work of art, to Liu Yiqian, a former taxi driver turned billionaire art collector.
The painting, “Nu Couche,” became the 10th work of art to reach nine figures, the New York Times reported, adding that six people were vying for the piece, with the winning bid coming over the phone from Mr. Liu who, with two museums, is among China’s most visible art collectors.
The record for a painting sold at auction belongs to Pablo Picasso's "Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O')," a 1955 oil on canvas that sold for $179.4 million last May, USA Today reported in a related article.
Monday’s sale assuaged concerns that the Modigliani painting would be too risque for some collectors, the Times reported, adding that Liu’s purchase price was a high for Modigliani at auction, beating the $70.7 million paid in New York last November for his 1911-12 sculpture “Tete.”
“This painting leaps off the page as the most vibrant, sexual, lyrical of [the artist’s] catalogue,” said Ana Maria Celis, a Christie’s specialist in postwar and contemporary art, in the Times article.
With the sale, Modigliani becomes the sixth artist to enter the so-called $100 Million-at-Auction Club, whose members include Picasso, Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Alberto Giacometti and Edvard Munch, USA Today stated.