Giacometti sculpture sells for $130million at auction

A woman takes a photo of 'Chariot', a rare 1950 bronze sculpture by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A woman takes a photo of 'Chariot', a rare 1950 bronze sculpture by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - A rare 1950 bronze sculpture by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti sold for nearly US$101 million (S$130 million) at auction in New York late Tuesday.

The sculpture, Chariot, is one of the seminal achievements of modern art and Sotheby's had valued it at more than US$100 million.

Selling for US$100.97 million, it depicts a goddess frozen in motion and was considered a beacon of hope for the post-World War generation.

The record for the artist's work of art at auction is $104.3 million, paid for Homme Qui Marche I at Sotheby's in 2010.

The identity of the buyer was not immediately known. The sculpture has been in the same private collection for four decades.

Chariot was the most expensive valued lot in a week of auctions at Sotheby's and rival Christie's, which began Tuesday and last until Nov 12.

Also on Tuesday, Amedeo Modigliani's small sculpture, Tete, smashed pre-sale expectations by selling for US$70.7 million. Sotheby's said the price was an auction record for the artist.

Dating from 1911-12, it is one in a series of rare sculptures carved from blocks of stone scavenged from construction sites across Paris.

It had been valued at US$45 million.

"The market is rediscovering sculpture and they are now among the most desirable works of art," said Simon Shaw, Sotheby's co-head of impressionist and modern art.

A third highlight of Sotheby's sale was Vincent van Gogh's Still Life, Vase With Daisies and Poppies, which fetched US$61.77 million, surpassing its pre-sale estimate of $30 to 50 million.

The artist painted it three months before his death.

Christie's and Sotheby's are auctioning around US$1.7 billion worth of impressionist and modern, post-war and contemporary art over the next week.

The world record for the most expensive piece of art sold at auction was a Francis Bacon triptych - Three Studies Of Lucian Freud - which sold for US$142.4 million at Christie's last year.