The absolute protagonist of the New York spring sales session is without any doubt Amedeo Modigliani, whose “Nu Couché (sur le coté gauche)” – reclining nude on the left side – painted in 1917 is going to auction, with a record-breaking estimate, during Sotheby’s ‘Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale’.
The work, which was bought by the current owner, supposedly Irish horse breeder John Magnier, in 2003 for $26.9 million, is considered Modigliani’s greatest one from an iconic series where he reinvented the nude for the modern era. Measuring almost 1.5 meters across, Nu couché, the largest painting of Modigliani’s entire oeuvre and the only one of his horizontal nudes to contain the entire figure within the canvas, was first displayed in Paris in 1917 when it caused such a stir that the exhibition was closed before it sold. More recently it has been the ‘star’ of the recent retrospective dedicated to the artist from Livorno by the Tate Modern in London.

Sotheby’s has given the painting an estimate of “in excess of $150 million”, which is the highest estimate for a painting at auction, beating the $140 million for Picasso’s “Les femmes d’Alger” and $100 million for Leonardo’s “Salvator Mundi”. In 2015, another reclining nude from Modigliani’s series, “Nudo Rosso” sold at auction for $170.4 million, at the time marking the second-highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction. A record that made Modigliani one of the three artists to have registered an auction price of over 150 million dollars together with Leonardo and Picasso.

“Nu Couché (sur le coté gauche)” has been on exhibition in Sotheby’s Hong Kong headquarters on April 24th-25th, and today it will be presented to the New York public, before being auctioned on May 14th.

Ilona Catani Scarlett

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