Top 12 Most Expensive Famous Artists Bronze Sculptures for Sale
Updated 11/24/2023 10:30 AM By Guo, Judy
We will explore the most expensive bronze sculptures by famous artists that are currently on the market. These sculptures embody the unique visual language and creativity of the artists. Not only are these bronze artworks breathtaking, but they also carry rich historical and cultural backgrounds. The high prices they fetch reflect the pursuit of art and the appreciation for the artists’ works, highlighting the significant position bronze sculptures hold in the contemporary art market.
Top 1‘Alberto Giacometti L’Homme au doigt’ (1947)
Price: $141.3 million
Where and when: Christie’s New York, 2015
This six-foot-tall painted bronze sculpture of a man pointing is highly appealing due to its rarity and artistic significance. Having been off the market since 1970, it has gained allure among collectors. The sculpture is recognized as a world-class work, with other versions of it held by prestigious institutions like London’s Tate Gallery and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Created by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, known for his profound exploration of the human condition after World War II, his sculptures have achieved record-breaking prices, some exceeding $100 million. In May 2015, “L’Homme au doigt” or “Pointing Man” became the most expensive sculpture ever sold, fetching a staggering $141.3 million from a private collector. This 1947 bronze statue, standing at 5 feet 10 inches, is considered Giacometti’s most iconic and evocative work, distinguished by its hand-painted finish.
Top 2 Alberto Giacometti’s “Walking Man”（1961）
Price: $104.3 million
Where and when: Sotheby’s London, 2010
In February 2010, Brazilian philanthropist and socialite Lily Safra purchased Giacometti’s 1961 bronze statue, L’Homme qui marche I, for $104.3 million. This iconic sculpture, depicting a tall and slender walking man, has become synonymous with modern art and is even featured on the 100 Swiss Franc banknote. Giacometti is renowned as a master of modern art, with his works being the only sculptures to sell for over $100 million. Other casts of L’Homme qui marche I can be found in esteemed museums like Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute Museum of Art and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. This historic sale at Sotheby’s marked the first time a sculpture surpassed the $100 million mark, making it truly a museum-caliber piece.
More Information Check Out: Bronze Walking Man
Top 3 Alberto Giacometti‘Chariot’ (1950)
Price: $101 million
Where and when: Sotheby’s New York, 2014
This sculpture, standing at just 4 feet 9 inches, garnered the second-highest price ever recorded for a Giacometti artwork and the second-highest for a sculpture overall. The surreal image portrays a woman on a motionless chariot and has an intriguing origin. Giacometti drew inspiration from his time in a hospital, where he became fascinated by the nurses’ carts adorned with bells. There are six versions of this sculpture, with others housed in renowned institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Alberto Giacometti-Stiftung in Zurich, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. As a fascinating trivia, Sotheby’s auctioned a version of the same sculpture in 1984 for approximately $1.4 million, highlighting its remarkable appreciation in value.
Top 4 Alberto Giacometti Le Nez
Price: $78.4 million
Where and when: Sotheby’s New York, November 2021
“Le Nez” holds significant importance among the artist’s sculptures and was even chosen as the cover for the catalog of the Giacometti retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2018.
In November 2021, a version of “Le Nez” was auctioned at Sotheby’s as part of the Macklowe Collection, which achieved a total of $676.1 million. The sculpture, made of bronze, steel, and iron and based on Mark Rothko’s No. 7, fetched an impressive $78.4 million, making it the second most expensive lot at the auction. In total, Giacometti created eight copies of “Le Nez,” with three of them being privately owned. The buyer of this particular sculpture was Chinese crypto billionaire Justin Sun.
Top 5 La Jeune Fille Sophistiquée (Portrait of Nancy Cunard)
Price: $71.2 million
Where and when: Christie’s New York, May 2018
The second work by Brâncuși in this countdown is this unique work in polished bronze, which dates back to 1932 and sold at Christie’s for $71 million. Brâncuși used Nancy Cunard, a legendary personality of the Roaring Twenties, as his muse for the piece. What makes it so appealing: This piece had been off the market since 1955 when the seller had bought it directly from the artist, so that night’s buyer was just the second person ever to own the piece. The subject, a British-born and heir to the Cunard shipping fortune, flouted social customs and inspired the work of prominent writers such as Louis Aragon and Ezra Pound. At separate times she was also involved with both of them romantically.
It’s time for museums to return their stolen treasures. What the artist said: Of the sculpture’s minimal appearance, the sculptor said, “A nose doesn’t make you, nor are your ears a part of the essence of you… It may look like elimination to you. But I look at what is real to me. I am trying to get a spiritual effect.” What the subject said: “There was one (sculpture) in wood, the other in bronze, both utterly unlike what I take to be my ‘line,’ but exquisite things,” Cunard said, according to the Christie’s catalog.
Top 6 La Muse Endormie
Price: $57.4 million
Where and when: Christie’s New York, 2017
The second artwork by Brâncuși on this list is a unique polished bronze piece from 1932, which was sold at Christie’s for $71 million. Brâncuși found inspiration in Nancy Cunard, an iconic figure of the Roaring Twenties, and used her as his muse for this sculpture.
What makes it so appealing is that this artwork had been off the market since 1955 when the seller acquired it directly from the artist. Thus, the buyer that night became only the second person ever to own this piece. Nancy Cunard, a British-born heiress to the Cunard shipping fortune, defied societal norms and influenced renowned writers like Louis Aragon and Ezra Pound, both of whom she had romantic relationships with.
Regarding the sculpture’s minimalist appearance, Brâncuși stated, “A nose doesn’t make you, nor are your ears a part of the essence of you… It may look like elimination to you. But I look at what is real to me. I am trying to get a spiritual effect.” According to Christie’s catalog, Cunard described the sculptures as “exquisite things” despite being unlike her usual artistic preferences.
Top 7 Grande Tête Mince
Price: $53.3 million
Where and when: Christie’s New York, 2010
Giacometti, although a prominent figure on this list, was ironically dethroned as the most expensive artist ever in the same auction where a Picasso painting sold for $106.5 million. Another remarkable Giacometti creation, the Grande Tête Mince, takes the third spot on this list. It was auctioned in 2010 for $53.3 million. Considered his most radical work, this sculpture offers a dual perspective with an elongated side view and an intangible frontal view. Stemming from the existential movement, the artwork portrays a figure in anticipation, with parted lips, seemingly about to speak.
What makes it appealing is that this piece had only two owners since its departure from the New York gallery owned by Pierre Matisse, the youngest son of artist Henri Matisse, in 1955. The owners were Frances Lasker Brody, a significant patron of the arts in Los Angeles, and her husband, Sidney F. Brody. While Giacometti is renowned for his anonymous, stick figure-thin sculptures, he sculpted a few real individuals, including his brother Diego, his wife Annette, and others close to him. This personal touch may lend greater emotional weight to his works.
According to contemporary writer Jean Genet, who was a favorite of the artist, Giacometti’s work reveals what remains of humanity when pretenses are stripped away. Genet describes it as a pursuit that goes beyond human subjects and extends to ordinary objects, resulting in magnificent images. Giacometti once stated, “I shall never succeed in putting into a portrait all the power a head contains.” This quote reflects his understanding of the immense willpower and energy required to capture the essence of a living being.
Top 8 Nu De Dos, 4 état
Price: $48.8 million
Where and when: Christie’s New York, November 2010
Nu de Dos is a unique artwork from Henri Matisse’s ‘Back’ series, which consists of four bronze sculptures depicting nude women from behind. This series is rarely exhibited, making this particular sculpture the only one to ever be auctioned. In 2010, a private collector acquired the artwork for $48.8 million.
Top 9 Henry Moore’s “Reclining Figure”
Price: $33.1 million
Where and when: auction of Christie’s in June 2016
Henry Moore’s iconic Reclining Figure was specially commissioned by the Arts Council for the Festival of Britain in 1951. This sculpture is composed of tubular and bulbous forms that come together to create an abstract representation of a reclining female figure. Among the five full cast pieces made by Moore, this particular sculpture achieved a remarkable sale of $33.1 million at Christie’s 250th anniversary auction in June 2016. Its significant value reflects the enduring appeal and artistic mastery of Moore’s work.
More Information Check Out: Henry Moore Statue
Top 10 Louise Bourgeois’ “Spider”
Price: $32 million
Where and when: Louise Bourgeois in 2019
While male artists continue to dominate the list of most expensive artworks sold at auction, it is noteworthy to acknowledge the achievement of the most expensive sculpture created by a woman. In 2019, Louise Bourgeois claimed this title when her sculpture, Spider, sold for an impressive $32 million at Christie’s. This significant sale highlights the recognition and value of Bourgeois’ artistic contribution to the art world.
Top 11 Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss”
Price: $31 million
Where and when: Sotheby’s auction, 2019
Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss” is an iconic and highly sought-after sculpture in the art world. While Klimt is renowned for his paintings, “The Kiss” has also been recreated in bronze, capturing the essence of the original artwork.
The highest auction price ever achieved for a bronze casting of “The Kiss” was in 2019, when a unique version of the sculpture sold at Sotheby’s for an astounding $31 million. This exceptional price reflects the immense artistic and historical value of “The Kiss” and its enduring appeal among art enthusiasts and collectors globally.
More Information Check Out: Bronze Kiss Statue
Top 12 Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker”
Price: $15.3 million
Where and when: Sotheby’s auction, 2016
Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker” is globally recognized as one of the most famous sculptures. Created in 1880, this bronze masterpiece symbolizes intellectual contemplation and philosophical reflection. “The Thinker” exists in various sizes and editions, including original casts by Rodin himself and posthumous casts authorized by the Musée Rodin. The sculpture’s iconic status has resulted in high auction prices.
In 2016, a rare casting of “The Thinker” authorized by the Musée Rodin sold at Sotheby’s for an impressive $15.3 million. This sought-after version boasted excellent condition and provenance, adding to its value. The significant worth of “The Thinker” reflects its enduring appeal and profound impact on the art world. As a representation of deep contemplation and human introspection, the sculpture continues to mesmerize audiences and command substantial prices in the art market.
More Information Check Out: Bronze Thinker Statue
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