A painting owned by Irish racehorse breeder John Magnier has fetched a record price at auction.

Amedeo Modigliani's 1917 masterpiece 'Nu couche (sur le cote gauche)' was sold in New York last night for a hammer price of $139m, or $157.2m including fees.

It is the most expensive painting sold by Sotheby's auction house. 

Mr Magnier, who owns Coolmore Stud, is believed to have bought the painting for $26.9m in 2003. 

Amedeo Modigliani follows Leonardo da Vinci and Pablo Picasso as the third highest-selling artist at auction. 

The sale failed to eclipse the $170.4m paid for another Modigliani nude at Christie's in 2015.

Bidding was restrained, lasting three to four minutes and opening at $125m before auctioneer Helena Newman brought the hammer down.

Modigliani reinvented the nude for the modern era, and when his series of paintings were first exhibited in 1917, they were considered so shocking that police closed the show in Paris.

He completed 22 reclining nudes and 13 seated nudes between 1916 and 1919.

Most of the former are found in museums, such as The Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Simon Shaw, co-head of impressionist and modern art at Sotheby's, said the painting, while rooted in tradition, reflected the changing status of women during World War I.