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Video: Sale of Giacometti sculpture sets record

  1. Transcript of: Sale of Giacometti sculpture sets record

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Money's tight these days, but apparently not at Sotheby's in London where an

    anonymous bidder set a big record today: $104.3 million for something called " Walking Man 1," a 60-year-old, six-foot tall bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti . It is the ever -- the largest amount ever paid at auction for any work of art, narrowly edging out the price paid six years ago for Picasso 's " Boy with a Pipe ." When we come back here tonight, a woman who had an idea about how to make the world a better place, starting right in her own neighborhood.

updated 2/3/2010 6:14:22 PM ET 2010-02-03T23:14:22

A life-size bronze sculpture of a man by Alberto Giacometti was sold Wednesday at a London auction for 65 million pounds ($104.3 million) — a world record for the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction, Sotheby’s auction house said.

It took just eight minutes of furious bidding 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.

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The sale price trumped the $104.17 million paid at a 2004 New York auction for Pablo Picasso’s 1905 “Boy With a Pipe (The Young Apprentice).” That painting broke the record that Vincent van Gogh had held since 1990, and its sale was the first time that the $100 million barrier was broken.

“It’s a phenomenal result ... I think the result pretty much reflects the depth of the market,” Helena Newman, a specialist of Impressionist and Modern art at Sotheby’s, told the BBC.

The price for the sculpture went up rapidly with keen interest from bidders calling in from Europe, Asia and the U.S., Newman said.

“L’Homme Qui Marche I,” a life-size sculpture of a thin and wiry human figure standing 72 inches (183 centimeters) tall , “represents the pinnacle of Giacometti’s experimentation with the human form” and is “both a humble image of an ordinary man, and a potent symbol of humanity,” Sotheby’s said.

The work was cast in 1961, in the artist’s mature period. It is rare because it was the only cast of the walking man made during Giacometti’s lifetime that has ever come to auction, Sotheby’s said. It was bought by Dresdner Bank in the early 1980s.

The last time a Giacometti of comparable size was offered at auction was 20 years ago. That sculpture was sold for $6.82 million, a record for Giacometti works at the time.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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