Is $100 Million Becoming The New Minimum Auction Price For Fine Art?

Quartzy | Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz

The most buzzed-about painting to go under Sotheby’s hammer next month is a nude by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, and it’s estimated to fetch at least $150 million. The current auction record for the artist is already a steep $170.4 million—but this 1917 painting, Nu couché (sur le côté gauche), or reclining nude, appears poised to break it. The century-old painting—which is Modigliani’s largest and described as the greatest of his career—is often credited with reinventing the nude for the modern era. One of only five of Modigliani’s nudes ever to come up for auction, the 58-inch portrait is rumored to be for sale by Irish billionaire horse breeder John Magnier. The artwork’s provenance and rarity are positioning it to fetch a seriously pretty penny.

Art is one of the most expensive asset classes next to real estate, and the Modigliani estimate is actually the highest ever for a work of art. Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi fetched a record $450 million at auction last year and Picasso’s Les femmes d’Algerssnagged $179 million in 2015. But both sold above their estimates of $100 million and $140 million, respectively, which were still below the Modigliani estimate. Meanwhile, rival auction house Christie’s is likely to set its own record with the sale of The Peggy and David Rockefeller art collection this May. The wide-ranging collection, which includes works from the likes of Monet and Picasso, as well 18th-century porcelains, furniture, and jewelry, could top $1 billion. It’s a figure that would more than double the previous record for a single collection, the 2009 estate sale of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, which went for $484 million…read more

Image: Amedeo Modigliani