The Top Five... most valuable artworks ever auctioned

Last week, a bronze sculpture, L'Homme qui marche I, by the Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti auctioned for a World Record $104.3m - and became the most expensive artwork ever to go under the hammer.

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II by
Gustav Klimt

To mark the occasion, here's a look at the five most expensive works of art ever to sell on the auction block...

5. Francis Bacon's Triptych 1974-77

An estimate of $70m offered only a vague indication as to these Bacon paintings' true value when they auctioned at Sotheby's in 2008.

Once referred to by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as "that man who paints those dreadful pictures," Bacon's Triptych 1974-77 was inspired by the 1971 suicide of his lover George Dyer.

Described as "deeply disturbing or faintly optimistic" depending on the viewer's point of view, Bacon's three-paintingTriptych remains the fifth most valuable artwork ever auctioned.

Final hammer price: $86.3m

4. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II by Gustav Klimt

Sold in New York, in 2006, this portrait by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt is one of several he made of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the wife of a wealthy industrialist who sponsored Klimt's career.

Dora Maar au chat by Pablo Picasso

And, in the same week as the $104.3m sale of Giacometti's L'Homme qui marche I, Klimt's famous portrait Kirche in Cassone also realised a record �26m. It is now the most expensive landscape by the artist ever sold.

Final hammer price for Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II: $87.9m

3. Dora Maar au chat by Pablo Picasso

Perhaps unsurprisingly for an artist dubbed the 'most important of the 20th century', Picasso appears twice on this list.

A portrait of his long-time love Dora, dated to 1941, went under the hammer in New York, in 2006. Today, it still holds the third highest hammer price for an artwork.

And it appears that artworks of and buy Picasso's muses will forever enthral collectors...

Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe)
by Pablo Picasso

Unseen in public for 43 years and never before offered at auction, Tete de Femme (Jacqueline), a portrait of Picasso's final lover sold for �8.1m, last week.

Elsewhere, a self-portrait by his pre-eminent muse and first wife, the respected artist Françoise Gilot, has also emerged on the market.

Final hammer price for Dora Maar au chat: $95.2m

2. Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe) by Pablo Picasso

Painted in 1905 when Picasso was just 24 years old, the artist's depiction of a Parisian boy smoking a pipe surrounded by a wreath of flowers sold in 1994 to an anonymous bidder.

The painting entered the New York auction with an estimate of $70m, far exceeding it to achieve the highest price ever paid for a work of art.

Final hammer price: $104.1m

1. L'Homme qui marche I by Alberto Giacometti

This piece had already been given a substantial guide price of �12m-18m when it appeared at Sotheby's, last week.

Yet a few minutes of intense bidding was all it took to push Giacometti's sculpture past the previous $104.1m record set by Picasso's Garçon à la Pipe (Boy with a Pipe) in 2004.

Final hammer price: $104.5m


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