News-Antique.com - Feb 04,2010 - Alberto Giacometti's 'The Walking Man' shattered its estimate, becoming the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction.
Sotheby's saw frenetic bidding last night at its Impressionist and Modern Art sale in London. The auction finally reached a gargantuan £146,828,350 total - a total even some of the best auction houses won't see in a year.
But all eyes were on one particular piece, which brought close to half the total: A bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti named simply L'Homme qui Marche I (The Man who Walks or just Walking Man).
Whilst the name may not be familiar to the layperson, the image of the life size (almost exactly 6ft tall) sculpture is instantly recognisable as an iconic piece of modern art.
The piece had already been given a substantial guide price of £12m-18m. Even at auctions where bidders eventually set world records, eight figure bids usually come slowly but not this time. It took a matter of minutes from the opening bid to beat the previous record price for a work of art at auction.
That record had been set in 2004 for a Picasso painting Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe), which depicted 'little Louis', a child who used to hang around the artist's studio. That sold for $104m (£58m).
An anonymous telephone bidder finally claimed the sculpture against extremely determined opposition, taking it away for a clear world record price of £65,001,250.
Another sculpture of Giacometti's had previously been the highest price for the artist: the 9ft tall 'Grande Femme Debout II', sold at Christie's for $27.5m in 2008.
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