Christie’s has achieved several record prices for artists at their auction in New York last night. The highest prices were for Amedeo Modigliani and Roy Lichtenstein, with the hammer falling at $170.4 million and $95.37 million. Modigliani’s “Nu Couche” created in 1917-18 was the star lot on the evening. It was the first time the painting has ever been offered at auction and it is now the second highest price ever achieved at auction for a work of art after Picasso’s Women of Algiers achieved $179.4m last Spring.
Christie’s has now confirmed that “Nu Couche” Modigliani’s iconic nude was purchased by the Long museum, which Liu and his wife Wang Wei founded. Liu Yiqian, who is one of China’s biggest art collectors, told The New York Times that he had bought the painting and intended to exhibit it to mark the museum’s fifth anniversary. “It will be an opportunity for Chinese art lovers to see good artworks without having to leave the country,” he was quoted as saying by the Times. The couple founded two museums in Shanghai — the Long Museum Pudong, which opened in 2012, and the Long Museum West Bund.
Pop Artist Roy Lichtenstein also had a signifacant result with the sale of Nurse, achieving $95.37 million, the highest price for one of his works.This rather typical work is from one of the most desirable of Lichtenstein’s series of his legendary Pop portraits of women, appropriated from romance comic books of the early 1960s. It was been included in Lichtenstein’s first retrospective exhibitions at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 1968 and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1969 which brought him international acclaim and established Lichtenstein as one of the most important figures of the Pop Art.
Nurse came with a distinguished provenance, from the most historic and significant collections of Pop Art: Leon Kraushar, New York, then to the comprehensive and influential collection of Karl Stroher, Germany and finally the collection of Peter Brant, before being acquired in 1995 by the present owner. “Nurse, one of the most renowned works of the 1960’s by Roy Lichtenstein is simply an extraordinary painting. Its magisterial scale and colours combined with Lichtenstein’s complete command of its composition place Nurse as one of the most compelling, intriguing and powerful Pop Art masterpieces of the time,” declared Laura Paulson, Chairman and International Director for Post-War and Contemporary Art.
British painter Lucian Freud’s nude portrait of his daughter Bella Freud, the fashion designer estimated to be worth $20-30 million failed to sell.