Alberto Giacometti $101m Chariot Sculpture Leads Sotheby’s Modern Sale

Alberto Giacometti

Sotheby’s Autumn Impressionist and Modern sale in  New York has realised $422 million, against presale expectations of  $316.5–424.9 million. This has been a record breaker for the auction room setting the highest-ever auction total in Sotheby’s history.

Alberto Giacometti sculpture, “Chariot” has sold at Sotheby’s New York for $101 million. The 1950 sculpture depicts a goddess and represents dynamism. It has always been considered a seminal masterpiece for the post-World War generation. The record for a Giacometti sculpture at auction stands at $104.3 million. This was paid for “Homme qui marche I” at Sotheby’s in 2010. This particular example has been in the same private collection for four decades. “Chariot” was the priciest lot in a week of auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, which runs until 12 November. The identity of the buyer was not revealed.

Amedeo Modigliani Tête from 1911-12 also smashed pre-sale expectations by selling for $70.7 million. It came from a rare series of sculptures carved in stone, depicting goddesses of captivating beauty, and stands as one of the great icons of 20th century sculpture. The artist liberated these extraordinary female heads from blocks of stone scavenged from construction sites across Paris. At night, Modigliani would illuminate them by candlelight, creating a sacred space for his powerful and enchanting figures. The present Tête is one of the very finest that Modigliani created. The work has never been offered at auction, and is one of few examples remaining in private hands. It had been estimated to achieve in excess of $45 million in the November Evening Sale.

Vincent van Gogh “Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies,” fetched $61.8 million, surpassing its pre-sale estimate of $30-50 million. The artist painted it three months before his death. Using the richly-colored bouquet of wildflowers to convey his psychological state at the time — a hallmark of the Expressionist icon. The resulting composition teems with the intense energy, emotion and sensitivity of this creative genius at the height of his short but renowned career. Still Life is one of the few works that Van Gogh sold during his lifetime, and is one of only a handful of great works by the artist to appear at auction in recent decades.Christie’s and Sotheby’s are auctioning around $1.7 billion worth of impressionist and modern, post-war and contemporary art over the next week. The world record for the most expensive piece of art sold at auction was a Francis Bacon triptych — “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” — which sold for $142.4 million at Christie’s last year.

This week-long series of evening sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s in New York continues today with works by the British artist Francis Bacon leading the sale. The triptych entitled Three Studies of Lucien Freud – currently holds the record for the most expensive piece of work to have been sold at auction. It went under the hammer last year $142.4m (£89.2m).


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