Paintings fetch record prices

Christie's launched New York's fall marathon of big-ticket art auctions Tuesday night with a $117-million sale of Impressionist and modern art that fetched record prices for works by Amedeo Modigliani, Fernand Leger and Henry Moore.

Eight of the 43 works offered were not sold, but auctioneer Christopher Burge said the sale was "among the best I've seen in years," indicating that "the market is strong both in terms of vendors and the buying audience."

Modigliani's 1917 painting of a reclining nude, consigned by Las Vegas casino owner Stephen A. Wynn, commanded the sale's top price of $26.8 million, upsetting the artist's previous record of $16.7 million. That was also the highest price previously paid for a painting by Leger, but his 1914 Cubist canvas, "Woman in Red and Green," brought $22 million at Christie's. Moore's 1975 bronze, "Three Piece Reclining Figure: Draped," was sold for $6.1 million, toppling the British sculptor's previous auction record of $4.1 million. The buyers were not identified.

-- Suzanne Muchnic

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