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Modigliani Sculpture Fetches 43.2 Million Euros, French Record

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"Tete"
"Tete" by Amedeo Modigliani. The sculpture is included in Christie's International June 14 auction of Impressionist and modern art in Paris. Dating from 1910 to 1912, the head is expected to sell for between 4 million euros and 6 million euros. Source: Christie's Images via Bloomberg

June 14 (Bloomberg) -- A limestone head by the 20th-century sculptor Amedeo Modigliani sold today at an auction in Paris for 43.2 million euros ($53 million) including fees.

The price was more than 10 times the low estimate and a record for any work of art sold at a French auction.

Christie’s International said it had expected Modigliani’s “Tete” to sell for between 4 million euros and 6 million euros at hammer price. The 2-foot-high (0.6 meter) modernist piece, influenced by African sculpture and the work of the artist’s mentor Constantin Brancusi, was one of the last Modigliani sculptures left in private hands, said Christie’s.

It had been in the collection of Gaston Levy, co-founder of the business that what would become the Monoprix supermarket chain, since 1927, said Christie’s. The anonymous buyer, making a telephone bid, beat one European and one U.S. bidder, said the auction house: 15 phones were registered to bid.

The previous auction record for France was for a Matisse painting at Christie’s Yves St. Laurent auction, said Christie’s. The Matisse still life of cowslips fetched 35.9 million euros (then $45.6 million) in Feb. 2009.

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Scott Reyburn in London at sreyburn@hotmail.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at mbeech@bloomberg.net.

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