The current sales record for a work by Amedeo Modigliani is $70.7 million, but Christie’s is hoping to smash that at The Artist’s Muse: A Curate Evening Sale of 20th Century Art on November 9. The specific work that is expected to do the trick is Nu couché (Reclining Nude), which was painted in 1917-18 and is estimated to fetch at least $100M at the New York auction.
“This is quite simply one of the most important paintings I have handled in my long career at Christie’s,” says Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s Global President and Chief Auctioneer. “There are a very small number of masterpieces that we dream of handling: this magnificent Modigliani has always been one of them.”
Photo Credit: Christie's
The artist painted the reclined woman as part of a nude series for his art dealer and friend, Léopold Zborowski. According to Christie’s, the collection “famously caused a scandal nearly a century ago when they were exhibited at Modigliani’s first and only one-man-show at the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris.” People were horrified to be greeted by naked figures, especially since one painting was placed in the gallery’s window, and the police had to shut the whole thing down.
Called the “painting that defines Modigliani,” Nu couché has been displayed in several esteemed museums (such as the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York), but this is the first time it has ever been up for auction.