From Chinese Trophy to Movie Star: 5 Reasons Why Modigliani May Actually Earn His $150 Million Price Tag

artnet News | Eileen Kinsella

As rock-star artists go, Amedeo Modigliani is an unlikely candidate. Born in 1884 on a kitchen table in Livorno, Italy, to Sephardic Jewish parents who soon declared bankruptcy, Modigliani was plagued with poor health throughout his life, stricken with pleurisy at the age of 11, and later tuberculosis. He died in 1920 at the tender age of 35. Despite his premature death, Modgliani’s work was already wildly popular by that time—one of the reasons why fakes and forgeries started popping up so quickly. (In an episode of reality television show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” a few years back, Kourtney Kardashian believed she and her then boyfriend had inherited an authentic Modigliani. Testing proved it was not the real deal.)

But the proliferation of fakes has not done much to curtail his market. Nor has the fact that the artist’s somewhat singular style of portraiture, in which figures are depicted with elongated necks and almond-shaped eyes, never fit neatly into one stylistic box, like Claude Monet‘s Impressionist landscapes or Picasso’s Cubist portraits. Another obstacle: In the nearly 100 years since his death, there has been no single authoritative entity to oversee and protect his legacy. Further, there are no fewer than five competing catalogues raisonnés (the comprehensive index of an individual artist’s output), which have alternately been criticized for being too strict or too generous with their inclusions…read more

Image: Modigliani, Nu couché (sur le côté gauche)