The estimate on June 14 for the 2ft 2in (65cm) high limestone sculpture from 1910-12 was 4-6m Euros, but in a French equivalent of the 'Giacometti moment', the saleroom was left stunned by the final hammer price of 38.5m Euros (£33.5m).
Selling to an anonymous buyer on the telephone, it beat that of the previous auction high in France - 32 Euros (£29m) for Henri Matisse's still life Les Coucous that sold at Christie's Yves St. Laurent sale in February 2009 - as well as the previous record for the Italian artist, the $28m (£15.1m) for Jeanne Hébuterne (Devant une porte) sold at Sotheby's New York in November 2004.
Tête came from the descendants of the supermarket magnate Gaston Levy who had bought it in 1927.
Adding to the provenance was its rarity - there are only 27 confirmed Modigliani sculptures (17 of which are at museums) and this work, which was his most elongated and feminine sculpture, was the only example of its type left in private hands.
By Alex Capon
£1 = 1.15 Euros
Christie's buyer's premium is 25/20/12%