It’s been a banner week for nude portraits painted in the early 20th century by famed artists. Last week, Picasso’s erotically-charged depiction of a naked female singer sold for $67 million at Sotheby’s in New York. On Monday night, the trend continued at Christie’s New York auction house, but on a much greater sale. Amedeo Modigliani’s “Nu Couché” sold at auction for $170.4 million, the second highest total a painting has ever sold for at auction — Pablo Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)” set the all-time record in May of this year when it sold for $179.4 million. The buyer of “Nu Couché” was later identified as Liu Yiqian, a former taxi driver turned billionaire from China. Liu, who along with Wang Wei, his wife, has become some of the world’s foremost art collectors, was bidding against six others and told The New York Times he plans to take the painting back to Shanghai and display it one of the private museums he and his wife own. “This work is relatively nice compared to his [Modigliani’s] other nude paintings,” Liu said of his expensive new purchase. “And his nude paintings have been collected by some of the world’s top museums.”
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