NEW YORK - When Alberto Giacometti’s L’Homme qui marche sold at Sotheby’s London for $104.3 million in 2010, the ceiling on the market for important sculpture was blown wide open. In the four years since, the appetite for such works has only grown. Once again, a work by Giacometti, this time Chariot, a nearly five foot bronze cast in 1951–52, broke the $100 million threshold, selling for $101 million. The historic sum helped drive the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening sale to $422.1 million, the highest total in Sotheby's history. With its painted surface and rich patina, Chariot is arguably the most important bronze created by Giacometti.
(left) Alberto Giacometti's Chariot sold for $101 million. (right) Amedeo Modigliani's Tête sold for $70.7 million.
The strength of the sculpture market was further affirmed with the sale of Amedeo Modigliani’s Tête, a striking and exceedingly rare stone carving that represented the finest such work in private hands. Its sale for $70.7 million was a testament to the appeal of the piece and to the growing interest in Modigliani as a sculptor and a new record for the artist at auction.
Vincent van Gogh's Nature morte, vase aux marguerites et coquelicots sold for $61.8 million.
The night did not, however, belong entirely to sculpture. A poignant still life painted by Vincent van Gogh sparked a bidding war. The work, Nature morte, vase aux marguerites et coquelicots, which was completed in the last weeks of Van Gogh’s life, sold for $61.8 million.