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Modigliani's €43.2m Tête sets a World Record price for the artist

The sculpture, sold by Christie's in Paris, is now the most expensive artwork ever sold in France

Amedeo Modigliani's short life saw him become one of the most celebrated painters and sculptors of the early 20th century. Now a work of his in his native France has far outstripped its seven figure estimate to become the most valuable art work ever sold in France.

In a full house and under the hammer of François de Ricqlès, President of Christie's France, the sale of the Impressionist and Modern Art reached €48.829.013 with 96% of the works sold by value.

The beginning of the event started with 24 works from the collection of Gaston Levy whose showpiece: Tête by Modigliani, has been eagerly awaited as his sculptures are rare on the market.

Modigliani's sculpture Tete
Modigliani's €43.2m sculpture Tête

Around 20 bidders, including 15 on telephones, engaged in a fierce bidding battle for more than 10 minutes. The notional expected price of €4m-6m was quickly forgotten and when it past the €25,000,000 mark more 4 bidders were still challenging each other over the sculpture.

Finally, the hammer came down with the sculpture sold at the price of €43,185,000/ £35,886,735/ $52,620,923, establishing world records for a work of the artist sold at auction and also the highest price for a work sold in France.

The happy collector carried it against an American and a European on the telephone, but they remain anonymous.

"In keeping with the results and records obtained at Christie's in New York during the sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in May, the results of the sale of Paris show a strong market in which collectors have an insatiable appetite for the rare and exceptional." commented Anika Guntrum, director of the department in Paris.


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Images: Christie's

Last updated: 15 June 2010