Italian-Jewish artist Amedeo Modigliani’s 1917 painting “Nu couché (sur le côté gauche)” is set to be auctioned at Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on May 14 with an pre-sale estimate in excess of $150 million one of the the highest estimates placed on an artwork at auction in history.
The $150 million price will almost defiantly be surpassed considering that in 2015 another painting from the same Modigliani series was sold for $170.4 Million to a Chinese art collector.
Painted by Modigliani who did most of his work in France, in 1917, this painting is considered the greatest work of his series which essentially reinvented the nude for the Modern era. Translated into English the painting is titled “Lying Naked (on the left side)”. It is the largest sized painting in his entire career.
Modigliani first unveiled his series of nudes in 1917 at his first and only solo show, an exhibition at Paris’ Berthe Weill gallery. It’s said that the exhibition was shut down within hours of its opening because a police officer was offended by the models’ pubic hair according to Sotheby’s.
This painting is is one of 22 reclining nude paintings by Modigliani, only 9 of the series are in private hands. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Modern Art and the Mettoploitan Museum of Art each have 3 paintings from this series. Outside of the United States, institutions with reclining nudes include the Long Museum in Shanghai and The Courtauld Gallery in London. Today the series is recognized as “one of the seminal achievements in Modern painting”, Sotheby’s described.
The Modigliani being auctioned was sold in 2003 by casino magnate Steve Wynn at Christie’s in New York for $26.9 million. The buyer was Irish horse-breeding billionaire John Magnier. Sotheby’s won’t disclose the name of the current seller, and it’s unclear whether it is Magnier, according to CNBC.
In an interesting side note , a portrait done by Amedeo Modigliani was found in a trash heap in Italy around 12 years ago, and was resorted in 2016. “Odette” was lovingly restored by Italy’s Amedeo Modigliani Institute and is owned by the man who found it who is an actual garbage picker or “skip diver”.
This painting will most likely not set an all time auction record which is held by a Leonardo da Vinci painting, “Salvator Mundi”, that was auctioned by Christie’s last year for $450 million. However it is possible that it could move into second place which is currently held by a Picasso(“Women of Algiers”) that sold for $179 million in 2015.
Many of the world’s top art collectors can be expected at the May 14th Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale.
There will be plenty of well known Jewish art collectors at this event. Glen Furhman, hedge fund manager of MSD capital, Apollo Global Management’s Leon Black , The Rubell Family (NY fixtures for decades), Susan & Leonard Feinstein (New Yorkers), Danny Goldberg (Sydney), Joseph Safra, Steven Cohen, and Allison & Peter Klein, are all some of the top art buyers in the world.
David Nahmed, the well known Syrian art aficionado is retired, however he owns one of the most famous Amedeo Modigliani paintings “Man with a Cane”. Maybe he will come out of retirement for this auction.
It should be very exciting to see the list of people participating in the auction and who the winning bidder will be.