They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this maxim definitely applies in the art and sculpture world. While not quite reaching the stratospheric prices that paintings consistently do, the most expensive sculptures lie far out of reach of most art lovers. Here is a list of the ten most expensive sculptures ever sold, with the adjusted price in today’s dollars in brackets.
10. Nu de dos, 4 état (Back IV) was created by Henri Matisse in 1958 and was one of his largest sculptures. It is known as one the Backs as it depicts a woman leaning over a fence. It was sold at auction at Christie’s, New York in 2010 for $48.8 million ($54.8 million) to an anonymous buyer.
9. Grande tete mince (Grande tete de Diego) was sculpted from bronze by Alberto Giacometti and was cast in 1955. It was recently auctioned in 2010 and fetched $50 million ($53 million) from an anonymous bidder. The sculpture is 67cm high and its name means ‘large thin head.’
8. The creation of the Guennol Lioness statue is around 3000BC and it is impossible to know who actually made it. The statue depicts a heavily muscled creature who is half lion and half woman. It was discovered in Iraq from part of the Ur civilisation by British Archeologist Sir Leonard Woolley. This limestone statue is 8cm tall and fetched $57.2 million ($67.5 million) at an auction at Sotheby’s in 2007.
7. La muse endormie (The Sleeping Muse) was sold at auction at Christie’s in 2017 for $57.3 million ($58 million). It is a bronze piece the was created in 1913 by Constantin Brancusi and depicts the head of a sleeping lady – Baroness Irana Franchon.
6. Balloon Dog (Orange) was created by Jeff Koons from 1994-2000 and sold at Christie’s for $58.4 million ($61.4 million) in 2013. Koons created a set of Balloon Dogs in five different colours (Magenta, Blue, Orange, Yellow, and Red) out of polished stainless steel.
5. Amedeo Modigliani was the artist behind Tete, which sold in 2010 at Christie’s, Paris for $59.9 million ($66.8 million). It was made between 1910-1912 and is one of 27 sculptures that the artist made. Tete is a limestone head of a woman with a mask and wind swept hair that stands 2 feet tall.
4. La jeune fille sophistiquée (Portrait of Nancy Cunard) was created by Constantin Brancusi from 1928-1932 and was sold at Christie’s in 2018 for $71 million. This unique sculpture is a portrait of Nancy Cunard and is cast from polished brass set atop a marble base.
3. Alberto Giacometti created Chariot in 1950 which sold in 2014 for $101 million ($101.4 million) at Sotheby’s in New York. The sculpture resembles an ancient Egyptian chariot with a slim woman standing on top and is made from painted brass.
2. Another sculpture by Alberto Giacometti is his L’Homme qui marche I, made in 1961. Number two on the list was sold in London in 2010 for $104.3 million ($117 million) at Sotheby’s. The sculpture depicts a tall slim man in the action of walking.
1. Number one is L’Homme au doight (Man Pointing) from none other than Alberto Giacometti again. It was cast from bronze in 1947 and sold in 2015 for the princely sum of $141.3 million ($145.9 million). It is believed that this is the only sculpture Giacometti painted by hand and has been described as a ‘rare masterpiece.’