Page last updated at 10:20 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Giacometti sculpture fetches 65m at Sotheby's auction

The moment the sculpture sold at Sotheby's

A life-size bronze sculpture of a man by Alberto Giacometti has been sold at auction in London for the world record price of £65,001,250.

It took just eight minutes for bidders to reach the hammer price after L'Homme Qui Marche I opened at £12m at Sotheby's auction house.

Sotheby's said it was the most expensive work ever sold at auction.

An anonymous phone bidder bought the work for £58m. The £65m price tag includes the buyer's premium.

The sculpture is considered to be one of the most important by the 20th Century Swiss artist.

It had been estimated to sell for between £12m and £18m but furious bidding saw more than 10 rivals bump the price up, eventually reaching the hammer price of £58m.

Georgina Adam, editor-at-large of The Art Newspaper, said the price was so high because there were so few Giacometti sculptures and it was very rare for them to be put up for auction.

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She told the BBC: "There's a market which is sort of exceptional for exceptional things.

"If something is a one in a lifetime opportunity, people will really step up to the plate and they will spend enormous amounts of money because it was a now or never opportunity."

The previous record for an art work sold at auction -$104,168,000 (£58,520,830) - was held by Pablo Picasso's Garcon a la Pipe which sold in New York in 2004.

Other works have reached more in private sales. Jackson Pollock's No5, 1948, reached $140m (£73m at the time) in 2006.

L'Homme Qui Marche I on display at Sotheby's
The sculpture had been expected to sell for between 12m and 18m

Another art work also exceeded expectations at Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art sale.

Gustav Klimt's Kirche in Cassone went for £26,921,250, above the £12m to £18m estimate.

Paul Cezanne's Pichet et fruits sur une table was sold for just under £12m.

Melanie Clore, of Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art department, said: "We are thrilled to have sold these great works this evening 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."

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