Irish billionaire John Magnier sells Modigliani painting for €130m at New York auction

'Nu couche' has become the fourth most expensive artwork ever sold

Irish billionaire John Magnier sells Modigliani painting for €130m at New York auction

'Nu couche' by Modigliani

A painting by Italian master Amedeo Modigliani has become the fourth most expensive artwork ever sold.

Nu couche (sur le cote gauche), which shows a reclining nude woman, was bought for $157.2 million (more than €130 million) at Sotheby's in New York yesterday.

The auction lasted just four minutes, and the painting - first unveiled in 1917 - became the most expensive ever sold at the auction house.

The painting was bought by billionaire Irish horse breeder John Magnier more than a decade ago.

Mr Magnier is the owner of the Coolmore Stud, and has produced hundreds of major horserace winners.

Business Correspondent Vincent Wall noted: "He acquired [the painting] 15 years ago for just $27 million dollars... [the sale is] a six-fold gain."

Sotheby's described Nu couche as "the greatest work from the iconic series in which Amedeo Modigliani reinvented the nude for the Modern era".

It adds: "In addition to being the finest example from the series, Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) is distinguished further as the largest painting of Modigliani’s entire oeuvre – measuring nearly 58 inches (147 centimeters) across – and the only one of his horizontal nudes to contain the entire figure within the canvas."