A 1917 painting by Amedeo Modigliani of a reclining nude woman that was once considered obscene in Paris has sold for more than $US157 million ($A208 million) at an auction in Manhattan.
Nu couche (sur le cote gauche) was the highlight of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art sale, which also featured Pablo Picasso works spanning seven decades, and paintings by Claude Monet, Edvard Munch and Georgia O’Keeffe.
Modigliani shocked Europe at the turn of the 19th century with his series of 22 nudes reclining in every possible position. When the Italian-born, Jewish artist’s nudes were unveiled at a Paris gallery, police demanded that it be shut down, offended by the unflinching strokes of his oil brush that thrust art’s nude figure into the modern era.
In the past six years, prices for Modigliani’s works have soared, from $US26 million ($A35 million) the vendor paid for Nu couche (sur le cote gauche) in 2003 to as much as $US170 million ($A226 million).
Picasso’s Le Repos, an image of his lover and “golden muse”, Marie-Therese Walter, sold for $US40 million ($A53 million). It was one of 11 Picasso works offered on Monday.
Claude Monet’s Matinee sur la Seine (Morning on the Seine), part of a lineup of river landscapes he painted while on a boat, fetched $US20.6 million ($A27.4 million).
Munch’s Summer Night and O’Keeffe Lake George with White Birch each fetched more than $US11 million ($A15 million).
Modigliani’s painting, which had the highest pre-auction estimate at $US150 million ($A199 million), was still well short of the record for the most expensive painting ever sold.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi sold last year at Christie’s for $US450 million ($A598 million).