Giacometti sculpture sells for a World Record £65m

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).

(At a much lower level, a painting by 'Picasso's Muse' Francoise Gilot is currently available.)

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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