Alberto Giacometti sculpture set to fetch $100 million at Sotheby's New York auction

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Alberto Giacometti sculpture set to fetch $100 million at Sotheby's New York auction
Alberto Giacometti's Chariot, which is part of Sotheby's New York November Evening auctions items, is displayed during a media preview in New York on October 31, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad.

By: Jennie Matthew

NEW YORK (AFP).- A bronze sculpture by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti valued at more than $100 million and 20 works by pop art icon Andy Warhol headline New York's fall art auction season next week.

Art worth at least $1.7 billion from impressionist and modern; post-war and contemporary go under the hammer at Christie's and Sotheby's at combined evening and day sales from November 4 to 12.

The most expensive lot under the hammer is Giacometti's 1950 "Chariot," the highlight of Sotheby's impressionist sale on Tuesday. The auction house calls it one of the seminal achievements of modern art and values it at more than $100 million.

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

"This is really what collectors from Brazil, Asia, Russia are dreaming of."

It is incredibly rare. Of Giacometti's six chariots, four are in museums and the fifth is with a private owner who has no intention of selling.

The Sotheby's "Chariot," which depicts a goddess frozen in motion and considered a beacon of hope for the post-World War generation, has been in the same private collection for four decades.

"Given the $104.3 million achieved at Sotheby's by Giacometti's 'Homme qui marche I' in 2010, we believe that 'Chariot' could sell for in excess of $100 million," said Shaw.

Sotheby's also offers Amedeo Modigliani's "Tete," which like "Chariot" is coming up for auction for the first time.

Dating from 1911-12, it is one in a series of rare sculptures carved from blocks of stone scavenged from construction sites across Paris and valued at $45 million.

Tuesday's third stand-out is Vincent van Gogh's "Still Life, Vase with Daisies and Poppies," which the artist painted three months before his death and valued at $30-50 million.

The highlight of Christie's impressionist sale on Wednesday is "Le Printemps," by French painter Edouard Manet. Valued at $25-30 million, it has been owned by one family for more than a century.

Depicting a famous actress of the day, it was painted in 1881 and exhibited in 1882 to critical acclaim while Manet was at the height of his powers and one of the most famous living artists.

Insatiable demand for Warhol 
For the last 20 years, it has been on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington and Brooke Lampley, head of the impressionist and modern art department for Christie's Americas.

Its estimate is based closely on the artist's record, with $33 million set for a self-portrait in 2010 by Sotheby's in London.

The second most expensive offering from Christie's is "Les constructeurs avec arbre" by French cubist painter Fernand Leger, valued at $16-22 million.

Cubist canvases have been long undervalued and Christie's is looking to capitalize on interest in a major cubism exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring the private collection of billionaire philanthropist Leonard Lauder.

On November 11 and 12, it is the turn of postwar and contemporary art, dominated by 20 works by Warhol, including portraits of 20th century icons and British figurative painter Francis Bacon.

Christie's is offering Warhol's "Triple Elvis" and "Four Marlons" for an estimated $60 million each, acquired from a German casino company and in storage for the last couple of years. 

"They're so sexy, so masculine," Sara Friedlander, head of evening sale for post-war and contemporary art, told AFP.

In all, Christie's is offering 11 Warhols and Sotheby's nine, the highlight of which is a portrait of Elizabeth Taylor "Liz #3 (Early Colored Liz)," for an estimated $50 million.

"There's a lot of Andy Warhol on the market, I think that speaks to a real insatiable demand on the part of the global marketplace to acquire works by Andy Warhol," Friedlander said.

Christie's last year set a new record for the most expensive piece of art sold at auction with a Bacon triptych -- "Three Studies of Lucian Freud" -- selling for $142.4 million.

Riding high on Bacon's popularity, the auction house is offering his "Seated Figure," an oil on canvas, for $40-60 million.

Although an untitled 1970 blackboard by US painter Cy Twombly, valued at $35-55 million, could set a new world record for the artist, none of the fall lots come close to the Bacon triptych.

"What this season is about is about quality icons and masterpieces," said Friedlander.

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Today's News

November 3, 2014

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