Reclining Nude by Modigliani Fetches Record $157 Million at Sotheby's Auction

The impressionistic painting was considered obscene when it was first unveiled in Paris in 1917.

An Amedeo Modigliani painting of a reclining nude sold for $157.2 million, the highest price in the history of Sotheby's auction house.

The impressionistic, 5-foot wide canvas is part of 22 works created by the artist from 1916 to 1919 that caused quite a stir when they were first unveiled in Paris in 1917. They were exhibited at Berthe Weill's gallery and constituted the only one-man show of Modigliani's life.

When crowds assembled outside, police went inside and pronounced the portraits of reclining women sans clothes too obscene to be seen in public. 

The show was shut two days after it opened. Only two canvases were sold.

The auction of his "Nu Couche (Sur la Cote Gauche)" Monday night generated a financial windfall. It fetched the second-highest amount ever spent on a Modigliani at auction, trailing "Nu Couche," another oil painting that sold for $170.4 million at Christie's New York in November 2015.

Monday's sale showed a naked, curvaceous woman reclining on a white couch, her elbow propped on a pillow as she looks boldly over her shoulder.