Modigliani lover portrait sells for $42.3 million

AFP-JIJI

A portrait by Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani of his lover Jeanne Hebuterne went under the hammer in London on Wednesday for £26.9 million ($42.3 million), Christie’s auction house said.

The final price for the 1919 portrait, “Jeanne Hebuterne (Wearing a Hat)” was well more than the presale estimate of £16 million to £22 million.

A Christie’s spokeswoman declined to say who bought the painting, which shows Modigliani’s French muse wearing a black hat and with the swan neck typical of his style.

Modigliani painted the tranquil portrait shortly before his death from tuberculosis in 1920. Days later, a devastated Hebuterne threw herself from a window and died. She was pregnant with their second child.

“It was a romantic, intense and ultimately tragic love story,” said Giovanna Bertazzoni, head of Christie’s impressionist and modern art department.

The portrait has been in the hands of a private collector in New York since 2006, when it was bought for £16.3 million.