The painting, Amedeo Modigliani's "Portrait de Anne Bjarne" from 1919, was sold on the phone to a Jewish French businessman. The seller is Israeli-American billionaire Meshulam Riklis, who had kept the expensive piece of art at his home in the United States.
Riklis bought the painting 30 years ago in New York for about $1 million.
"This isn't our only Modigliani," Riklis' wife Tali said Tuesday. "Neither is it the most expensive painting we own. That titles goes to a Francis Bacon."
And why did you decide to sell it?
"We decided to put the painting on sale as part of the Dignity Fund, and all the money will be donated – preferably to the cultural departments of the Beit Halochem Centers (for disabled IDF veterans)."
The painting was sold by the Matsart auction house. Three people – an Israeli, a Chinese and a Spaniard – expressed an interest in buying it, but it was eventually sold to a Frenchman.
"This is the most expensive work of art sold ever in Israel," says Shmuel Bahagon, the auction house's strategic advisor. "This proves that the art market attracts investors from all over the world."
The Israeli record is still far behind the world record: The world's most expensive painting is "The Scream" by Edvard Munch, which was sold about a year ago for $120 million.