Amadeo Modigliani's Portrait of Paulette Jourdain (1919) realised $42.8m in the November 4 sale of the A Alfred Taubman collection of modern art at Sotheby's.
It beat its estimate of $35m by 22.2%.
The work is one of the last paintings Modigliani produced before his tragic early death from meningitis in 1920.
Sotheby's comments: "Pauline 'Paulette' Jourdain was the housemaid and later the lover of Modigliani's dealer L?�opold Zborowski.
"She is painted on one of the largest canvases used by the artist in a completely frontal, stately manner that directly engages the viewer�Ǫ
"The rich colors, transcendent light and dynamic surface further transform this painting into a masterwork.
"The painting demonstrates well how the artist assimilated a broad range of influences from African art to Old Master paintings to create his own unique, sophisticated vision."
Modigliani's record remains $69m - set for Nude Sitting on a Divan in 2010.
Taubman was a shopping centre magnate who built one of the world's most remarkable modern and contemporary art collections.
Other highlights of the first day included an untitled work by Mark Rothko that made $20.4m.
The lavender and green painting dates to 1952 and displays Rothko's signature walls of colour.
The second part of the sale will take place tomorrow. It will include works from Alexander Calder and Paul Gauguin.
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