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Modigliani breaks auction record in France

Christie's Paris sold the work to an anonymous phone buyer

A Modigliani sculpture smashed the record for the most expensive piece ever sold in France at an auction at Christie’s Paris yesterday. Tête de Caryatide, 1910-12, soared over its very conservative €4m-€6m estimate, going to an anonymous phone buyer for €43.2m. There were nine phone bidders vying for the work, with a US and a European collector still in hot pursuit at €38m. The piece, which had been part of the Gaston Lévy collection since 1927, is one of only ten Modigliani sculptures in private hands, and one of only 27 confirmed Modigliani sculptures in existence, according to Christie’s international head of impressionist and modern art, Thomas Seydoux. He said: “The sale was crazy. We expected the work to make around €15m-€20m, but there were still four bidders past €25m,” adding: “It’s hard to price something so rare—but sculpture has been fetching record prices recently, and there is a new consciousness about exceptional works.”