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Is it Worthy Bidding $170.4 Millions for Amedeo's Nude Painting?
- Published Date:2016-05-14 20:27
- By Singing Palette
The tragic fall of troubled artist Amedeo Clemente Modigliani is a story that shares some similarities with the death of Edgar Allan Poe who is American Romantic Litterateur in 19th century. It may come off as cliché, but Amedeo’s works had no value to the world until he passed away. As an underappreciated artist Amedeo would often trade his art for food, and died destitute. So with the biggest scent of irony available, one of his most controversial works Nu Couché has sold for 170.4 million dollars to Chinese businessman Liu Yiqian. This is an absolutely sky-high price! It is the highest record of Amedeo Modigliani’s works ever achieved at auction and the second among the list of the world's most expensive paintings. The world record is $ US 179 million for Pablo Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (Version “O”).
Buyer and seller, across the world are really happy about the auction at Christie’s, and for good reason. The seller Laura Mattioli Rossi was guaranteed $100 million. About 6 bidders furiously bid for 9 minutes, and it has drawn a lot of attention from the media.
Does the Nu Couché deserve such a high price tag? Or is it simply an act of vanity that has driven up the price?
Amedeo Modigliani’s Legacy
Born in 1884, Amedeo had a very short life and passed away from this earth at only 35 years old.
Amedeo preferred nudes that elongated the figures and faces of the women he painted, creating a very sultry look at the human body but also one that was full of imperfections. Those imperfections were beautiful, stunning even, and in some cases had a darkness to them that came off as frightening. That life included very little success for both his paintings and sculptures, as his unique style was not commercially accepted at the time. Nearly none of the over a hundred paintings which he gave to his girlfriends is reserved.
In an interesting twist he knew and came into contact with Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brâncuși. Younger than both, Amedeo had a similar skillset to both artists but had a particular penchant for being a little bit too ahead of his time. In some ways his best works showed that he had one particular note and style, and lacked the variety that made more prominent artists great. His style is unique, and there really isn’t anyone quite like him then, and even today his name is not well known by the public. This is the downfall of being ahead of his time, and even though his work was considered worthless by the masses in his life, the world has finally caught up to his genius and is giving it proper due.
The True Value of Nu Couché
Created in 1916, this oil on canvas painting was one of many commissioned by friend and dealer Léopold Zborowski in the only exhibition of Amedeo’s career. The works on exhibition all depict female bodies, so the police intervened by force. The painting has changed hands over 7 times since that debut, and has been officially sold to Liu Yiqian on November 15th for $170,405,000 at a Christie’s New York.
In the hands of the previous owners, the nude painting by Amedeo had not acquired anywhere near the value to justify the sale. As controversial as it sounds, this is probably one of the more original paintings on the top grossing list. Taking into account that art is subjective, putting a personal price on the Nu Couché will vary for each individual. Looking at it from the perspective of Liu Yiqian, he will more than likely put it in his public Long Museun in Puxi. This museum which locates in Shanghai claims to be the biggest private museum in China. It collects many famous paintings and calligraphies, ceramic and other objects from home and abroad at all times.
In the Eyes of Collectors
Anyone can buy art, it isn’t exactly a science. But there is a huge difference between someone who buys art, and the professional known as a collector. Making multiple acquisitions is at the core of any good collector, and in some ways this involves building a sort of mini brand. Great collectors of renown have a certain taste and rarely makes mistakes by going out of their comfort zone. A good example of this technique in action is to look at their collection- more often than not, it will tell a story. It will represent the art in the best light possible so that when you’re looking at it, the value is as apparent to you as an onlooker as it is to the buyer. This is the business, and not a lot of people are good at it. So the next time you go out and purchase something for your collection, ask yourself is it a purchase or is it another chapter in the story you’re telling as a collector?
Comparison to the Prices of Other Expressionistic Works
Going down the list of the highest prices paid for paintings, of the 3 nudes on the list Amedeo makes it twice for Nu Couché and Nude Sitting on a Divan, the latter of which sold for $68.9 million. La Gommeuse by Pablo Picasso sold for $67.45 million, and has just as much nudity as any of Amedeo’s paintings yet gives off a different tone.
In 2014, Dmitry Yevgenyevich Rybolovlev bought the No. 6 (Violet, Green and Red) created by Mark Rothko, a Russian-born American abstract expressionist painter, for 140 million euros, which would be 157 million US dollars today.
In 1999, The Waterfall (158 X 165CM) created by German expressionist painter Franz Marc was sold for 5.06 million US dollars, which broke the record of 20th century German paintings.
Conclusion: Does It Worth 1.1 Billion Dollars?
Works of art are evaluated mainly from the following four aspects: first, the artist’s personal achievement and his or her place in the history of art; second, the level of the specific target in all of the artist's works; third, the scarcity of the works by the artist; fourth, the performance of works of similar values at the art market created by other artists of the same fame.
In terms of the place in the history of art, of course Amedeo Modigliani can never catch up with Pablo Picasso. Nu Couche is the representative work of Modigliani, which is better than his La Belle Romaine (Nude Sitting on a Divan). Modigliani died at an early age and we get to know it from document files today that he has created about 200 complete works and it is unclear how many of his works are revered. The price of other expressionist oil paintings of the same size differs a lot. The record of Picasso’s is thousands of US dollars while that of Franz Marc’s is merely hundreds of US dollars.
Judged from the value of the work itself, 1.1 billion is falsely high for Nu Couche. However, when it comes to the zeal for one particular work of art and the desire for possession, the price can never be used to measure. Of course, only the collector himself knows how long his love will last.
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