Modigliani painting fetches $157M at auction

A painting by Amedeo Modigliani of a reclining nude woman has sold for over $157 million US at an auction in Manhattan.

Painting of reclining nude woman was once considered obscene in Paris

The oil painting Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) by Amedeo Modigliani was auctioned at Sotheby's in New York on Monday. (Sotheby's via Associated Press)

A 1917 painting by Amedeo Modigliani of a reclining nude woman that was once considered obscene in Paris sold for over $157 million at an auction in Manhattan on Monday.

Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) was the highlight of Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art sale featuring Pablo Picasso works spanning seven decades, and paintings by Claude Monet, Edvard Munch and Georgia O'Keeffe.

Modigliani shocked Europe with his series of 22 nudes reclining in various positions. When the Italian-born, Jewish artist's nudes were unveiled at a Paris gallery, police demanded that it be shut down, offended by the unflinching strokes of his oil brush that thrust art's nude figure into the modern era.

Le Repos by Pablo Picasso, seen on display in London last month, sold for $40 million US. (Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

In the past half-dozen years, prices for Modigliani's works have soared, from $26 million US the current owner paid for Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) in 2003 to as much as $170 million US.

Picasso's Le Repos, an image of his lover and "golden muse," Marie-Therese Walter, sold for $40 million US. It was one of 11 Picasso works that were offered Monday evening.

Claude Monet's Matinee sur la Seine (Morning on the Seine), part of a lineup of river landscapes he painted while on a boat, capturing the changing light from sunrise to a lightning storm, brought in $20.6 million US.

Both Munch's Summer Night and O'Keeffe Lake George with White Birch each fetched over $11 million US.

Modigliani's painting, which had the highest pre-auction estimate at $150 million US, was still well short of the record for the most expensive painting ever sold.

Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi sold last year at Christie's for $450 million US.