'Nu couché (sur le côté gauche)' by Amedeo Modigliani is estimated in excess of $150m at Sotheby’s New York.

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Modigliani nude is highest estimate

The largest-ever painting by Amedeo Modigliani (1884- 1920) has been unveiled by Sotheby’s ahead of its auction in New York. It is estimated in excess of $150m at the Impressionist and Modern sale on May 14.

Dating from 1917, Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) measures 4ft 10in (1.47m) wide and is the only one of his horizontal nudes to contain the entire figure within the borders of the canvas.

It carries the highest ever estimate for a work of art offered at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi was estimated at $100m when it sold at Christie’s for $450m including premium in November 2017).

It is believed that the consignor is the Irish racehorse breeder John Magnier, although this has not been confirmed by Sotheby’s. The auction house, however, has said that the vendor acquired it for $26.9m (including premium) at Christie’s in 2003 – a then-record price for the artist.

The record for Modigliani is the $152m ($170.4m with premium) paid for another of the artist’s nudes sold at Christie’s New York in November 2017.

First auction after fire in Perth

Scottish auction house Iain M Smith has announced the date of its first sale since a fire destroyed the saleroom’s premises at Perth Aerodrome in Scone.

It has secured a temporary unit at the aerodrome from where it will offer 1100 lots in a general sale on May 4.

It will then move into a permanent 900sqm premises being built at the same location once development work is complete.

The fire broke out the day before a 600-lot auction was due to take place on March 9. It destroyed the entire building as well as the goods of around 200 vendors.

Smith told ATG that negotiations were still taking place with the insurers but he fully expected individuals to receive payment in due course.

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National Gallery buys rare still-life

Sotheby’s has negotiated the private sale of a still-life by Juan de Zurbarán (1620-49) to the National Gallery in London for €2.4m. It is the first painting by the artist – the son of the more famous Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) – to enter a UK public collection.


This still-life by Juan de Zurbarán has been acquired by the National Gallery in London following a private sale negotiated by Sotheby’s.

Previously unknown, the work was discovered by Sotheby’s in a Spanish private collection.

Barely a dozen paintings by Zurbarán have been identified partly due to the fact that the artist died aged 29 in the ‘Great Plague’ of Seville.

The National Gallery has also announced another acquisition: Wineglasses, a study of a sun-dappled veranda by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) painted when he was 19. It was allocated to the gallery under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, offsetting £1.54m in tax.

Novice auctioneer contest launch

NAVA PropertyMark has confirmed the dates for the Novice Auctioneer of the Year competition and Annual Forum 2018.

The novice auctioneer contest is open to all auctioneers with less than 12 months’ selling experience and will take place on October 24 at The Cambridge Belfry, Cambourne, Cambridge. The forum is at the same venue the following day.

Competition entry forms and conference details are available soon at

Money laundering crackdown alarm

A European Union update to current anti-money laundering regulation designed to tackle terrorist financing risks will place an extra administrative burden on art and antiques businesses, trade associations have warned.

The EU’s fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, designed to extend anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing rules, will now apply to ‘persons trading in works of art’.

The changes include the need to verify identities for transactions of €10,000 or more, irrespective of the method of payment, whether by cash, credit card, bank transfer or cheque.

It also covers a series of lower-value ‘linked transactions’ that can add up to €10,000 or more.

Booksellers group bibliography prize

The International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) has announced the winner of the 17th Breslauer Prize for Bibliography. Dutch scholar and author Ina Kok, will receive the 2018 award, and an endowment of $10,000, for her four-volume work: Woodcuts in Incunabula Printed in the Low Countries (2013).

The awards ceremony for arguably the most prestigious prize in the antiquarian book world will be held at the ABA Rare Book Fair London on May 25.


Ina Kok, winner of the 17th Breslauer Prize for Bibliography.

In Numbers


The amount of new exhibitors at this year’s ABA Rare Book Fair London that opens at its new location in Battersea Park on May 24. Next week’s issue of ATG will include our annual Books, Maps & Prints supplement.