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Friday, February 5, 2010

A Week for the Record Books-

Where are the Investors Going? Contrary to the Dow being down for two days in triple digits with half of Europe blowing up, the art market is perhaps at its strongest point ever and oh, what a week in London this has been! Sotheby's Imps and Mod Department certainly raised the bar in the art world with their sale Wednesday night. Beginning with an opening bid of 12 million pounds and ten bidders, Giacometti's 1961 six foot sculpture "L'Homme Qui Marche I" (Walking Man I) sold at USD$104.3 million, or 65 pounds, in only eight minutes before the drop of the gavel to an anonymous telephone bidder, reaching far above its $20 million to $30 million estimate, according to a Sotheby's spokesperson to the Wall Street Journal writer, Kelly Crow (2/3/10). This price edges out the previously held record of Picasso’s “Garcon a la Pipe”, which was sold at Sotheby’s New York in May 2004 for $104.1 million. Formerly part of the corporate collection of Dresdner Bank, purchased back in the 1980s, the Giacometti sculpture is the only life-time cast of L’Homme qui marche ever to be brought to auction (

The Wall Street Journal article also states that dealers at the auction attribute the high price of the Giacometti work to its large size and interested parties from Russia and the Middle East, as well as the fact that the piece was cast during the artist's lifetime. A guess that the buyer was business magnate Roman Abramovich because of the scene he caused at Art Basel in 2007 after purchasing one of the artist's 1956 bronze figures of a woman from Jan Krugier with an asking price of circa $14 million. However, the rumor was squelched after someone "familiar with the matter said that Mr. Abramovich wasn't the buyer of "Walking Man I."

Sotheby's total almost doubled that of Christies. Sotheby's brought in $234.6 million and Christie's Tuesday sale brought $122.9 million (WSJ 2/3/10).

Other highlights from Sotheby's Wednesday evening blockbuster sale included Klimt's leafy 1913 landscape, "Church in Cassone (Landscape with Cypresses)" sold for $43.2 million, setting a record for the artist; Cézanne's still life, "Pichet et fruits sur une table," sold for $18.9 million; and my favorite, Matisse's "Femme couchée" sold to an unnamed American collector for $7 million (WSJ 2/3/10).

Photo: "L'Homme Qui Marche I" by Giacometti. Credit: Justin Lane / EPA

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