Silvio Berlusconi’s sculpture Venus Rising sold for $66m

Worth $16.7bn in 2004, the sale of the Benvenuto Cellini’s sculpture of Venus Rising is the biggest divorce settlement in the United States.

The couple’s son, Stefano, said he was “grateful” for the terms of the deal

The event is known as the ‘Berlusconi Affair’ in reference to the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, one of the family’s many businesses.

Silvio Berlusconi, 90, and his then-wife Veronica Lario, 60, divorced in 2009 after 23 years of marriage.

Their son, Stefano, said he was “grateful” for the terms of the deal.

A portrait of Veronica Lario, and the proceeds from the sale of the painting – as well as financial and other assets – were settled during an amicable settlement.

There were a number of artworks that were of important significance to both parties’ art collections, said a biography of Silvio Berlusconi in the Daily Telegraph.

In one case, it was agreed the centrepiece of Veronica Lario’s painting collection – a marble statue of Venus walking away with her wings out – would go to the Italian embassy in Washington DC.

That deal was not as profitable for Veronica Lario as the $126m (£94m) agreed for her husband’s collection of artwork by Benvenuto Cellini, a 19th century Italian master.

He was an artist of three-dimensional human and animal forms carved with metal, ivory and gold.

The oil painting of Venus Rising has a total sale value of $676m (£519m).

The painting went under the hammer at Christie’s auction house on 1 November, and was the most expensive work to be auctioned in the United States since Christie’s made a $471m (£349m) sale of Willem de Kooning’s painting in New York in 2010.

Other contemporary and ancient pieces that went under the hammer included Dali’s Sea and River; and a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat entitled Jerry’s Room.

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