Account Navigation

Account Navigation

Currency - All prices are in AUD

Currency - All prices are in AUD
 Loading... Please wait...
ArtRoomsGallery.com

Amedeo Modigliani, Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) (1917), sold for $157.2m Courtesy of Sotheby's

Posted by ArtRoomsGallery.com Blog on

 Sex sells—but only if it is guaranteed

Sarah P. Hanson

15th May 2018 04:55 GMT Courtesy The Art Newspaper and Sotheby's

Amedeo Modigliani, Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) (1917), sold for $157.2m

Helena Newman, worldwide co-head of Impressionist and Modern art for Sotheby's, presides over bidding for Monet's Matinée sur la Seine (1896) in the 14 May sale in New YorkCourtesy of Sotheby's

Kicking off New York’s third straight market week, after the Frieze and Tefaf fairs and Christie’s Rockefeller extravaganza, Sotheby’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art on 14 May rang up $318.3m. Although that number appears to nearly double last year’s take of $173.8m, and even improve on November’s $269.7m result, nearly half was thanks to a single work: Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) (1917), which contributed $157.2m with fees.

With the auction record for a Modigliani nude standing at $170.4m, there was reason to believe that this example—some deemed it more commercially viable, given the subject’s more-demure pose; others said less desirable for being less explicit—could incite a bidding war. When lot 18, tagged with an estimate “in excess of $150m”, rolled around, two agonising minutes passed during which Patti Wong, chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, looked to be on the verge of jumping in. But there was ultimately no advance on the $139m offered by a buyer in the auction house had lined up ahead of the sale with an irrevocable bid. The painting was immediately crowned the most expensive in the firm’s 274-year history by Helena Newman, the auctioneer and president of Sotheby's Europe and worldwide co-head of the Impressionist and Modern department.

Amedeo Modigliani, Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) (1917), sold for $157.2m Courtesy of Sotheby's

That paradoxically large yet unfulfilling result drained what energy had been built with a solid early battle for the sale’s other star, Le Repos, Picasso’s beatific 1932 portrait of his teenage lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, which sold for $36.9m with fees (est $25m to $35m) to an Asian private collector on the phone.

After the sale, Simon Shaw, Sotheby’s worldwide co-head of Impressionist and Modern art, underscored the “velocity” of appreciation in the market for the top two lots, noting that the Modigliani last sold for $42m five years ago, and the Picasso for $7.9m in 2007. "It was a fantastic price for a fantastic picture", says Brooke Lampley, Shaw's colleague who heads the department in New York, of Le Repos. "But that person still got a bargain."

  • onlineartgallery
  • paintingsonline
  • art online
comments powered by Disqus