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The 2ft x 3ft (60 x 92cm) oil on canvas was estimated to raise in excess of $100m at the auction on November 9 but six bidders pursued it until it was knocked down to a telephone bidder.

The buyer was Chinese billionaire businessman and art collector Liu Yiqian who, together with his wife, owns the Long Museum in Shanghai. Having once been a handbag street-seller and taxi driver, he made his fortune from property and pharmaceuticals and has built a formidable collection of classical Chinese works of art as well as contemporary art.

"Meaningful Relationships"

Christie's Global President Jussi Pylkkänen said: "In recent years we have created very meaningful relationships with collectors in China and we are delighted to confirm that the Long Museum purchased our top lot of the evening."

The price fetched stands only behind Pablo Picasso's Les femmes d'Alger (Version O) which took $160m (£108.1) in the same rooms in May in the all-time list of top auction results.

The painting itself was one of a series of female nudes made for art dealer Léopold Zboroswki that caused a scandal when exhibited at Modigliani's first and only one-man show at the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris.

Outraged by the content of this show - which caused a crowd to form outside the gallery window where one of Modigliani's nudes was openly on display - the police demanded the immediate closure of the exhibition.

It came to Christie's from a private collection in Switzerland and was appearing at auction for the first time. Subject to a third-party guarantee, the painting was bound to sell on the night but the final price was well in advance of the premium-inclusive $70.7m (£44.2m) fetched by the sculpture Tête at Sotheby's New York in November 2014.

Lichtenstein and Gauguin

At the same sale, a new auction record came for American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) when Nurse was knocked down at $85m (£58.6m).

A further record came for a sculpture by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) as Thérèse from 1902-03 took $27.5m (£19m). The carved wooden figure decorated with gold gilding overshot an $18m-25m estimate and beat the previous high for a Gauguin sculpture which was the premium-inclusive $11.3m for Jeune tahitienne sold at Sotheby's New York in May 2011.

Drawing multiple bidders, it was knocked down to another phone bidder.

Overall, 24 of the 34 lots sold on the night (71%) for a hammer total of $435.3m (£300.24m) hammer - slightly below the $440m-545m pre-sale estimate. Christie's said that bidders from 35 countries and that five artist records were achieved (Courbet, Balthus, Lichtenstein, Modigliani and Nara).

However, the unsold lots included a Lucian Freud, Naked Portrait on a Red Sofa, estimated to sell for in excess of $20m and Willem de Kooning's Woman estimated at $14-18m. The latter was one of four works that failed to get away which were guaranteed by the auctioneers.

The buyer's premium was 25/20/12%

£1 = $1.45