The art world is buzzing about Christie’s recent “Artist’s Muse” auction, which offered 34 masterpieces and realized nearly $500 million in sales.
Five world auction records were broken and checkbooks were steaming after Christie’s “Artist’s Muse” auction on November 9. With sales totaling $491,252,000, 12 of the 34 modern masterpieces hammered for more than $10 million.
Leading the way in sales and the night in general was Amedeo Modigliani’s “Nu couché (Reclining Nude)” of 1917-1918. The erotic painting was the source of quite a stir and controversy when it was first exhibited during Modigliani’s one and only show at the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris. Outraged at the nudity and the overt sexuality of the painting, police demanded the immediate closure of the exhibition. “The painting is one of a series of great female nudes made for Léopold Zborowski,” Christie’s reports.

Roy Lichtenstein, “Nurse,” 1964, oil and magna on canvas, (c) Christie’s, New York 2015

The price? Hammering for a whopping $170,405,000, “Nu couché” eclipsed Modigliani’s previous auction records by nearly $100 million. Furthermore, the price was the second highest ever paid for a work of art. Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’),” was sold in May 2015 for $179,364,992 and currently holds the record.
As Lot 8A, Modigliani’s bank-buster price characterized and foreshadowed what was to come. Roy Lichtenstein’s “Nurse” of 1964 realized $95,365,000; Gustave Courbet’s “Femme nue couchée” sold for $15,285,000; Baltus’s “Lady Abdy” sold for $9,909,000; and Paul Gauguin’s “Thérése” of 1902 realized $30,965,000.  

 To learn more, visit Christie’s.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.


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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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