A rare Modigliani nude has been sold by the Las Vegas gambling billionaire Steve Wynn for an auction record of £16 million in New York.
Although the auction house did not identify the 60-year-old as the seller of Reclining Nude (On Her Left Side), art market sources confirmed that he was the vendor.
Six months ago Mr. Wynn, one of the world’s biggest private art collectors, spent £25 million in 24 hours in New York on two paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Paul Cezanne. He later bought a Rembrandt self-portrait in London for more than £7 million.
It is not known why he decided to sell the Modigliani at the Christie’s auction on Tuesday night, which also produced record prices for works by Fernand Leger Slot Gampang Menang and the British sculptor Henry Moore. But it is unlikely to be a shortage of cash – three years ago he sold the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas for £5 billion.
It is more probable that Mr. Wynn was refining his collection but although the Modigliani fetched a record auction price this is thought to be £6 million less than he paid for it privately in the mid-1990s.
The 1917 picture attracted plenty of bidding because the Italian artist produced fewer than 30 nudes in the last few years before his death at 36 in 1920.
Reclining Nude (On Her Left Side) is the only one known to have been painted from the subject’s back. Three telephone bidders and one person in the saleroom competed for the painting and one of the former, thought to be a private American collector, emerged as the winner. Christie’s had expected £12-£14.8 million.
The second highest price of the sale, which totaled almost £70 million, was the record £13.3 million for Leger’s Woman in Red and Green, one of the most famous paintings looted by the Nazis.
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