Giacometti Walks into Record Books

Article excerpt

Byline: Louise Jury Chief Arts Correspondent

LONDON has reclaimed the crown for selling the world's most expensive artwork from New York.

The staggering new record for a Giacometti sculpture helped take total sales at Sotheby's last night to [pounds sterling]146.8 million -- the highest value auction ever staged in London.

Bidding for Giacometti's L'homme qui marche I began at [pounds sterling]12 million and soared to [pounds sterling]65 million ($104 million) in eight minutes of frantic bidding between about 10 would-be owners.

This price, backed by a new record for a Gustav Klimt landscape and a string of other significant lots, took total sales beyond the pre-auction estimate of [pounds sterling]69 million to [pounds sterling]102.1 million. It is the first time since 1987 -- when Christie's sold Vincent van Gogh's Sunflowers for a then landmark price of [pounds sterling]24.75 million at the height of the explosion in the market -- that London has pulled off such a feat.

It was further proof that the art market is defying the recession with strong prices attracting sellers to consign works -- many of which have not been seen at auction in decades. …