Modigliani sale? Change the record.
Eyebrows were raised last week when Sotheby’s announced the sale of a Modigliani nude for $150 million – the highest ever estimate on a work of art. But sell it will, because someone has guaranteed to pay the price. The only question now is whether anyone will pay more.
For the last 30 years, Modigliani nudes have continually broken the artist’s record. A seated nude (La Belle Romaine) which sold for a record $8 million in 1987, sold again in 1999 for a new record of $16.8 million, and then again in 2010 for a record $69 million. Sotheby’s $150 million painting was last sold (by the Las Vegas hotelier Steve Wynn) at Christie’s in 2003, when the Irish horse breeder John Magnier bought it for a then-record $27 million.
The rare Amedeo Modigliani painting is expected to fetch $150 million CREDIT: AFP PHOTO / ANTHONY WALLACE
The key pricing factor is that two-and-a-half years ago, Christie’s sold a large Modigliani reclining nude for $170 million to the Long Museum in Shanghai. The defeated bidder might bid that much again.
However, any thoughts that we might have another Leonardo on our hands, rocketing above a $100 million estimate to $450 million, are tempered by the fact there are still nine, albeit smaller, Modigliani reclining nudes in private hands that could appear on the market. The rarity factor is therefore diminished.
Ancient Iznik pottery claims Islamic sale’s top spot
Top price at London’s Islamic art sales last week was for a small blue and white Iznik or Turkish pottery jar dating from the mid 16th century. Estimated at £60,000, it sold at Sotheby’s for £669,000, to a private collector.
The jar was discovered last year in a warehouse by London-based art consultant Diddi Malek, who previously established Bonhams’ Islamic art department, but is now an independent advisor. Acquired in the Seventies by the owner’s father, it was covered in decades-worth of dust.
A unique Iznik blue and white pilgrim flask with animals, Turkey, circa 1545-55 (est. £60,000-80,000)
Though the owner was unaware of the piece’s significance, it had actually been illustrated in a survey of Iznik pottery published in 1989, but the author, Julian Raby, had never seen the it until it appeared at Sotheby’s. Its unusual design dates back to pre-Islamic times and the pilgrim flasks of the Middle Bronze age.
Beautifully decorated with an intricate pattern of dogs, hares and deer playing, it is perhaps the only example of this shape, with its undulating surface, appearing in Iznik pottery.