Bronze Sculpture by Alberto Giacometti Fetches $104 Million in UK

A bronze sculpture of a man by Alberto Giacometti has sold for 65 million pounds ($104.3 million) — making it the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction, Sotheby's auction house said.

It took just eight minutes of furious bidding Wednesday for about ten bidders to reach the hammer price for "L'Homme Qui Marche I" (Walking Man I), which opened at 12 million pounds, Sotheby's said.

The sculpture by the 20th century Swiss artist, considered an iconic Giacometti work as well as one of the most recognizable images of modern art, was sold to an anonymous bidder by telephone, the auction house said.

Sotheby's had estimated the work would sell for between 12 to 18 million pounds, Associated Press reports.

Commenting on the record-breaking sale, Melanie Clore, co-chairman worldwide of Sotheby's impressionist and modern art department, said: "We are thrilled to have sold these great works and that they have been recognised for the masterpieces that they are.

"The competition which generated these exceptional results demonstrates the continued quest for quality that compels today's collectors," ITN reports.

The 6-foot-tall sculpture was cast in 1961 in an edition of six. The work by the 20th century Swiss-Italian artist, known for his depiction of postwar European existential angst, is one of the most recognizable images of modern art.

"Walking Man I" was sold by Dresdner Bank in Germany, which had acquired it in 1980.

It had been commissioned — along with a group of others bronzes — by the architect Gordon Bunshaft for Chase Manhattan Plaza in downtown Manhattan, where it was to stand alongside Bunshaft's 60-story glass-and-steel Chase headquarters.

Although the installation was never realized, some of the sculptures — and others Giacometti created as experiments for the project — were made; many, though, he destroyed.

The Giacometti was not the only work to fetch a high price at Sotheby's on Wednesday evening. A 1913 landscape by Gustav Klimt, "Church in Cassone — Landscape With Cypresses," brought $43.2 million from another telephone bidder, according to Seattle Times.

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