What Recession? Giacometti Sets All Time Auction Record

Alberto Giacometti, sculpture, Sotheby's auction house
Alberto Giacometti's bronze sculpture L'homme qui marche I set a new world record for fetching the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction, selling for $104.3 million at Sotheby's on February 3. [Credit: AP/Anthony Devlin]

LONDON — After eight minutes of "fast and furious" bidding, a new world record was set at Sotheby's London on Wednesday. An anonymous phone buyer successfully outbid at least nine other potential collectors in the battle for a rare work of art by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti. When it was all over, the once hushed room burst into applause.

The six-foot-tall Giacometti bronze sculpture L'homme qui marche I ("Walking Man I")  sold for a record $104.3 million - the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction (including the buyer's premium cost). The hammer price achieved was roughly four times the Sotheby's pre-sale estimates. Pablo Picasso's Garcon a la Pipe (Boy With a Pipe), which fetched $104.2 million in 2004, previously held the record.

The life-size Giacometti sculpture was conceived in 1960 and cast a year later. The piece was sold by Commerzbank AG, which inherited the work when it took over Dresdner Bank in 2009.

Other highlights from the Sotheby's sale were Gustav Klimt's Church in Cassone (Landscape with Cypresses), which sold for $43.2 million; Paul Cézanne's Pichet et fruits sur une table, which went for $18.9 million; and Henri Matisse's Femme couchée, which fetched $7 million.

"We are thrilled to have sold these great works...and that they have been recognized for the masterpieces that they are," said Melanie Clore, co-chairman of Impressionist and Modern Art at the auction house.

[Source: Wall Street Journal]

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