Alberto Giacometti's Chariot nears record at $101m in New York

Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti's 1950 masterpiece Chariot has sold for an impressive $101m at Sotheby's New York, nearing the record for the artist's work.

Giacometti Chariot Sotheby'sThe work is now among the most valuable ever sold at auction

The piece had been expected to sell for more than $100m, and was won by an anonymous telephone bidder thought to be an American collector.

Despite not topping the $104.3m record held by Giacometti's Homme qui marche I - sold by Sotheby's in 2010 - Chariot is now one of the most valuable artworks ever sold at auction, with the top selling piece of all time Edvard Munch's The Scream at $120m.

"Few works of art capture a historical moment with the power and poignancy of Giacometti's Chariot," commented Sotheby's co-head of impressionist and modern art, Simon Shaw.

"With its connotations of healing, strength and magic, this heroic sculpture is a symbol of renewal following the second world war. It is a privilege to present a masterpiece worthy of the world's great museums."

Giacometti himself told his dealer, Pierre Matisse: "In 1947 I saw the sculpture before as if already done. In 1950 it was impossible not to realize it, although it was already situated for me in the past."

Amedeo Modigliani's Tete was the other headline lot of the sale, setting a new world record for the artist at $70.7m despite its $45m high estimate. Both sales demonstrate an upwards trend for sculpture at auction, which is becoming popular with high-end collectors.

Modigliani's previous record at auction was 1917's La Belle Romaine, one of a series of nudes, which made $68.9m in 2010.

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