He is understood to be the owner of the work, which was last sold in another New York auction in 2003 for a meagre $27m. Nearly 15 years later, the hammer fell at $139m (€117m) for the same painting at Sotheby’s on Monday night, costing the buyer over $157m (€132.5m) when fees are added.
Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) was part of an exhibition of the Italian artists’ work which Parisian police closed on the day of its opening, such was the shocked response. At almost 5m in length, it was one of Modigliani’s largest works, and the guide price had been a record.
The unknown buyer put the Italian into an exclusive club of artists whose works have made over $150m at auction, the other members being Pablo Picasso and Leonardo da Vinci. .
Closer to home, the National Museum of Ireland said yesterday it will exhibit a hugely important collection of 17th-century Irish silver which it bought last month at a Christie’s auction in New York.
It did not state the price, but auction records show the six-part dressing service realised $200,000 (€169,000), which includes a buyer’s premium.
Made by Dublin silversmith John Segar and dated 1685, the exceptional condition of the items was attributed to the long periods in safekeeping for the collection which originated from Mullingar, Co Westmeath, possibly from the Handcock family of Moydrum Castle. Just before the 1798 United Irishmen rebellion, it was placed in the La Touche Bank for safety reasons until around 1870.
It left Mullingar after Moydrum Castle was burnt by the IRA just a week before the July 1921 truce in the War of Independence. After the family left Ireland, the set was sold in a 1930s London auction and was inherited by the Boston-based buyer’s son-in-law, who died two years ago.
Crucially, the Chinoiserie scenes, exotic birds and foliage, and other decorations on the casket, pincushion, pair of boxes, clothes brush and hairbrush make curators confident they are from the same set as two John Segar silver candlesticks and a mirror acquired by the museum in 1962.
“Irish Stuart silver is exceedingly rare and dressing table sets are rarer still,” said museum director Raghnall Ó Floinn.“To be able to acquire and unite parts of the same set, which have become separated over the centuries is exceptional.