Giacometti Bronze Set to Become the World’s Most Expensive Sculpture at Christie’s May Auction

Alberto Giacometti, Pointing Man (1947), bronze with patina, hand-painted. Courtesy Christie’s.
Alberto Giacometti, Pointing Man (1947), bronze with patina, hand-painted sold for $141.3 million, the most expensive sculpture ever sold at auction.
Photo: Courtesy Christie's.

Christie’s New York is betting on a nearly six-foot-tall Alberto Giacometti sculpture to go for a price in the region of $130 million next month (see Giacometti Sculpture Could Break $100 Million at Sotheby’s). If achieved, that price would make it the most expensive sculpture ever sold at auction.

Pointing Man has never come to auction, having remained in the same private collection for the last 45 years. The seller is not identified.

There are six versions of the sculpture, which was conceived in 1947. New York’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Tate Gallery are among the four museums that hold versions of the bronze. According to Christie’s, the work on offer is the only one hand-painted by the artist.

According to MoMA, “For the Existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre … Giacometti’s sculpture was ‘always halfway between nothingness and being.’”

Sartre also said:

At first glance we seem to be up against the fleshless martyrs of Buchenwald. But a moment later we have a quite different conception: these fine and slender natures rise up to heaven. We seem to have come across a group of Ascensions.

A Giacometti bronze holds the current record for a sculpture, with Walking Man having fetched nearly $104 million at Sotheby’s London in 2010. His Chariot went for just over $100 million at Sotheby’s New York in November 2014 (see $101 Million Giacometti Leads Sotheby’s $422 Million Imp Mod Evening Sale).

The current sculpture will be part of “Looking Forward to the Past,” a sale that also features a Picasso canvas estimated at up to $140 million (see $140 Million Picasso at Christie’s Is World’s Most Expensive Painting at Auction). It’s organized by the house’s Loïc Gouzer, and features both modern and contemporary artworks, departing from the typical separation the auction houses adhere to.

Gouzer also organized a successful sale of contemporary artists last May, billed as focusing on the “gritty underbelly” of contemporary art. Auction records were set for a dozen artists, including Joe Bradley, Wade Guyton, Glenn Ligon, and R.H. Quaytman (see Christie’s New Contemporary Sale a $135 Million Thumping Success).


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