It was first sold in 1999 at Sotheby’s for $16.7 million, breaking the sale record for the Italian artist. Eleven years later, history repeats itself when an anonymous telephone bidder took it for $68.9 million dollars - nearly 30 million over price.
Written by Teresa Filipe Lopes on April 17, 2014
The Beautiful Roman, a voluptuous brunette sitting on a sofa with crossed legs, slightly covered with a light fabric against a warm red background, is one of best-known works by Modigliani. It is part of a series of nudes painted in 1917 that caused a sensational public reception since its revelation in Paris in that year. It was first displayed in the only solo exhibition during the artist’s life, so bold and groundbreaking that it was closed by the police on its opening day. It was considered an obscenity for its time, but the exhibition was eventually reopened after the removal of the paintings from the gallery’s street front window.
This oil painting, also know as ‘Nude Sitting on a Sofa’, was first bought in 1999 by Halit Cingillioglu – a Turkish banker that offered $16.7 million for the artwork (around 10 million pounds). In 2010, its auction inspired a fierce competition between representatives from Hong Kong, Paris, Geneva, Tokyo, Moscow and New York. The NYC based Sotheby’s representative, Roberta Louckx, known to work with Russian collectors, ended up winning this purchase for her anonymous client, who bid by telephone and paid $68.9 million (over 41 million pounds) for the artwork that was initially estimated on $40 million.
The buyer’s identity has not yet been revealed. All that it is known, besides the bold telephone call, is that Sotheby’s had previously arranged with the client an irrevocable bid for this work for an undisclosed sum or a percentage of the profit in case that any other collector would make a higher offer.
Amedeo Modigliani, the modern style artist of portraits and nudes with curved lines and elongated figures, is also known by his rivalry with Pablo Picasso and his tragic romance with Jeanne Hebuterne. This talented Italian painter and sculptor born into a Jewish family in 1884, struggled with poverty, addiction and rejection before dying in Paris at the age of 35. Today, the drama and passion associated with his work add up to the multi-million price tags – especially on the large-size works that rarely appear on the market – being one of the favorite artists for sellers, buyers and even forgers.
This piece is also one of overstockArt.com’s favorites, reproduced by hand in each detail, available for all art lovers.