Unlikely Alberto Giacometti Breaks Record and is the New Auction King

. Friday, February 5, 2010

From Judd Tully of ArtInfo:

"A rare life-size and life-time bronze cast, from 1961, of Alberto Giacometti's L'Homme Qui Marche I, better known as "Walking Man," improbably became the most expensive work of art ever to sell at auction today, selling for £65,001,250 ($104,327,006).

The price barely edged out the previous record, set in 2004 by Pablo Picasso's Garcon a la Pipe, 1905, which went for $104.1 million (£58,052,830) at the time. But Giacometti's personal previous record, achieved when Grand Femme Debout II, 1959-60, earned $27,481,000 at Christie's New York in May 2008, was vanquished in seconds.

The £65,001,250 ($104,327,006) result also pulverized the previous record for any modern sculpture sold at auction, achieved last February at the Yves Saint Laurent sale in Paris when Constantin Brancusi's Madame L.R. (Portrait de Mme L.R.) from circa 1914-17 sold for $37.7 million.

Estimated to sell for £12-18 million, the much-talked-about Giacometti figure of a spindly man, who resembles a survivor of a cataclysmic event, frozen in mid-stride, took off like a Roman candle, with multiple bids erupting in the packed salesroom.....

Pre-sale buzz that the Giacometti might hit $50 million was greeted with considerable skepticism by even seasoned players. No one even fantasized it would exceed $100 million.....

Sotheby's senior specialist Philip Hook, who took the winning phone bid at a hammer price of £58 million, said that one of the unidentified underbidders told him before the sale that he had been waiting 40 years for the sculpture to come on the market. It turned out to be that kind of generational event.....

Read the full article here. The last photo is by Henri Cartier-Bresson, of the artist Giacometti himself echoing his own sculpture. Thanks David for the tip.


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