Irish billionaire is behind the sale of a $157.2 million piece of art - the highest auction result in Sotheby's long history. 

Irish billionaire John Magnier has made a sixfold increase on his initial purchase of a nude painting by Amedeo Modigliani.

Magnier, Ireland's leading thoroughbred stud owner, purchased the artwork for $26.9 million in 2003 at a Christie’s auction.

John Marnier at Goff's, Ireland, 2008 (Image via Flickr)

John Marnier at Goff's, Ireland, 2008 (Image via Flickr)

At the time, the New York Times reported that is was a high price for the Italian artist.

With a hefty sale of $157.2 million, the 1917 piece titled “Nu couche (sur le cote gauche)” is now the highest auction result in Sotheby’s 274-year history.

Painted nearly a century ago, ‘Nu couché’ is the greatest work from the iconic series in which #Modigliani reinvented the nude for the Modern era. Learn more about the modern masterpiece that just made auction history in our New York salesroom: https://t.co/A8KvDuydbz pic.twitter.com/cwY9fpnQr8

— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 14, 2018

The painting was the leading sale of Monday evening's Impressionist and Modern Art auction in New York. The grand sale accounted for half of the evening’s $318.3 million tally.

Amedeo Modigliani’s “Reclining Nude” beauty sells to a lone phone bidder for $139m, or $157.2m w/ @Sothebys fees pic.twitter.com/lPuVV8NvXM

— Kelly Crow (@KellyCrowWSJ) May 14, 2018

Some pieces on offer, including works by Pablo Picasso, failed to find buyers.

Read More: W.B Yeats' love letters to sell for $2.4 million at London auction

The bidding for Magnier's Modigliani started at $125 million. 

Modigliani’s auction record for a nude painting is $170.4 million, when Shanghai-based Long Museum founded by billionaire Liu Yiqian, made the purchase in 2015.

The most expensive artwork ever sold -- “Salvator Mundi" by Leonardo Da Vinci -- fetched $450.3 million in November. 

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