Painter Amedeo Modigliani didn’t have much success in his lifetime, and died virtually penniless. But his painting Nu Couché was sold in New York on Monday for $170 million, the second-highest price ever paid for a painting at auction. Paul Cézanne’s The Card Players is the most expensive painting: it was sold for $250 million in 2011. Six people bid against each other in Christie’s showroom in a scene described as “palpably tense” by the New York Times. The winning bid came over the telephone from a Chinese buyer.
[Watch the biopic on Modigliani, starring Andy Garcia]
Modigliani painted the picture of a naked woman in 1917, and although his nudes are in serious demand for collectors, Christie’s was concerned that the painting was too risque. “This painting leaps off the page as the most vibrant, sexual, lyrical of the catalogue raisonné,” said Christie’s Ana Maria Celis.