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Top 13 Most Expensive Sculptures

posted by William DeMassi

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Top 13 Most Expensive Sculptures
1. L’Homme au doigt
2. L’Homme qui marche I
3. Tete
4. Balloon Dog 3D
5. Guennol Lioness
6. Grande tete mince
7. Nu de dos, 4 etat
8. Madame LR
9. Tulips
10. Reclining Figure
11. Tete de femme
12. Artemis and the stag
13. Bird in Space

Little do people know, artworks like paintings and sculptures are somewhat used by rich people as instruments to minimize financial risk.

In simple terms, rich people buy paintings and sculptures so that they won’t be poor no matter what happens, even when there’s an economic downturn.

Artworks are some of the few things people buy whose value do not get compromised by economic crisis because “artistic” value does not really know supply and demand.

This is the reason the richest people buy galleries worth of artwork. Buying artwork as investments is not a walk in the park. The value of many artworks worth buying can cost millions of dollars per piece.

There are lucky ones who were able to buy paintings and sculptures for a measly hundred bucks from hapless people who have not a single idea of the true value the artwork they’re selling has in the market.

We tracked down the thirteen most expensive articles in the world right now. If you have an eye for masterful art, find one in the dump and sell it to the nearest art curator.


13. Bird in Space, Constantin Brâncuși – $33.3 million, adjusted

most expensive sculpture list

Bird in Space is a series of sculpted works by Constantin Brâncuși, a Romanian sculptor. The original one was made in 1923. In 2005, it was sold for $27,500,000.00, which was the price record for a sculpture sold in an auction.

In Romanian, Bird in Space is called “Pasărea în văzduh.” Brâncuși focused on the movement portrayed by the sculpture. Wings and feathers are removed, and the bird’s generally fatter parts are elongated, instead. The beak is shaped into a diagonal oval plane. Seven of the sculptures are marble and nine were bronze.

The Bird in Space became a subject of taxation issues by United States Customs. The customs officials did not believe that the polished bronze sculpture was art. They wanted to impose tariff on it as a manufactured metal object equivalent to 40% of the sale price.

The sculpture and other people high people in the world of art refused to acknowledge the artistic value of Brâncuși’s works. The sculpture escaped tax when authorities acknowledged non-representational sculptures like the Bird in Space as art.


12. Artemis and the stag, unknown sculptor – $32.6 million, adjusted

most expensive sculptures list

Artemis and the Stag is either a Roman or a Greek bronze sculpture of the goddess Artemis. Albright-Knox Art Gallery auctioned this sculpture last 2007 and it was sold for $28,600,000.00, which was the highest selling price of a sculpture at that time.

The statue portrays Artemis, the female deity of hunting and the wild in Ancient Greece. The statue stands on a plinth in a pose that shows that she just launched an arrow from the a bow. The bow she was supposed to hold was lost in time.

The statue wears a short chiton, folded at the waist, billowing outwards. Her hair was wavy and gathered at the back of the head. She wears laced sandals and stands alongside a stag. The original complete sculpture may have included a jumping dog.

Critics describe it as one of the most beautiful artworks from the classical era that survived up to this day. Albright-Knox wanted to deaccession the sculpture due to it not being in sync with the gallery’s core plan to showcase contemporary art, but it admired and loved by the populace.

It was auctioned afterwards at Sotheby’s and broke Bird in Space’s record, selling for $28.6 million. The record was broken eventually but the only one sculpture from Antiquity beat its selling price.


11. Tete de femme (Dora Maar), Pablo Picasso

most expensive sculptures list

Tete de femme is a plaster-modelled bronze-cast sculpture made by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. The true name of the sculpture is Dora Maar, named after Picasso’s love partner at the time.

The idea sa conceived in 1941 but the bust were cast into four copies across the 50’s, years after they broke up. The bust concentrated on the head and neck with a short shoulder-line easily seen before the squared base. It is a noticeably large and massive sculpture.

Critics see the sculpture as somehow deity-like, contrasting the dar and aggressive parts. Picasso did not have access to an ample metal supply to work on, forcing him to move the project from around the time of the World War to the early 50’s.

The sculpture was sold for a record-breaking $29,100,000.00 to private art dealer Franck Giraud, approaching the upper limit estimate of the $20-$30 million range. The record was beaten only a month after.


10. Reclining Figure: Festival, Henry Moore – $31 million, adjusted

most expensive sculptures ever

This is a bronze sculpture made by Henry Moore, an English sculptor. It was commissioned for the Festival of Britain in 1951. Moore anticipated the relocation of the sculpture after the festival so he sculpted a work that will not relate to a specific site and can be viewed anywhere.

The sculpture is an abstract form of a reclining female human with a small head and relaxing on her two arms. Moore was eventually acknowledged as Great Britain’s greatest sculptor.

Moore attested that this sculpture was his first one where space and form are inseparable. He sees it as one of his four most important works ever. Sadly, it was vandalized in 1953 and removed form display after.

A third cast of this sculpture was sold by Christie’s at £19,081,250 (roughly US$31 million) in February 2012. It set a new record for a sculpture made by a British sculptore, beating the mark made by Damien Hirt’s the Golden Calf last 2008.


9. Tulips, Jeff Koons – $34.7 million, adjusted

most expensive sculptures in the list

Jeff Koons is an American sculptor who became famous in the mid-80’s as member of an art movement that searched for meaningful art in a time dominated by media.

Koons looked into visual advertising, marketing, and entertainment to be able to communicate with the masses through his art. Koons boldly delved into popular and elitist culture. He is a sculptor who uses Plexiglas, Hoover vacuum cleaners, basketballs in aquariums, porcelain figurines of entertainment icons, and glass replicas.

Koons want to show art as a commodity that cannot be placed in a crude hierarchy of aesthetics. Tulips is a giant bouquet of balloon flowers that represents generic, mass-produced objects that are related to parties, celebrations, feasts, and holidays. Koons wanted to present an ordinary inflatable object as a compact gigantic entity. The overall appearance exudes a parade-like vibe that successfully portrays a celebration in massive proportions.

Jeff Koon’s Tulips was eventually sold to an anonymous buyer, who turned out to be hotel tycoon Steve Wynn, who presented the artwork in Las Vegas.


8. Madame LR (Portrait de Mme LR), Constantin Brâncuși – $41.5 million, adjusted

most expensive sculptures list

Brâncuși’s fame is a product of his ability to create outstanding stone and bronze sculptures, chiseled or cast, polished to utmost perfection and transcendence in form. Madame LR is no exemption at all. This magnificent wooden sculpture is far from Brâncuși’s usual works.

This work and the other wooden sculptures of Brâncuși are massive and primal, as if it is one with the earth itself, and hiding secrets only nature knows.

Madame LR is a standing figure with distinct parts cut off form a single block of wood. The sculpture is a portrait of a woman, created using African techniques that evoke an aesthetic not known to European sensibilities.

Madame LR was sold in Christie’s at the Yves Saint-Laurent art collection in 2009.


7. Nu de dos, 4 état (Back IV), Henri Matisse – $53 million, adjusted

most expensive sculpture

This life-size Henri Matisse sculpture of a nude woman called Nu de dos, 4 état (Back IV) was sold $48.8million (£30.2m) in New York City.

The bronze artwork was purchased by the Gagosian Gallery, Inc. It is one of four bronze sculptures of women seen from behind Matisse crafted from 1908 to 1931.

This sale beat the previous price record for a Matisse creation by almost $3 million. The art auction garnered huge returns despite economic instability, thanks to global bidding. The spike in sales was the biggest since the 2008 financial crisis.


6. Grande tête mince, Alberto Giacometti – $57.8 million, adjusted

expensive sculptures list

Grande tête mince is a bronze-cast sculpture made by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti. The sculpture was conceptualized in 1954 and cast the next year. It was sold as one of the most valuable sculptures ever sold in history at $53.3 million.

The French name of the sculpture means “large thin head”, has been known for different names, one of them being Grande tête de Diego (“Large head of Diego”). The bronze article, modeled on either Albert or his brother Diego, is one of Giacometti’s largest works.

The dimensions are distorted to make the head tall and thin like a plate. The effect makes it look like there are two different heads seen from different perspectives. One angle totally contradicts the other. The sculpture had an estimated value range of $25-$35 million but was sold at a peak price of $53,282,500, one of the highest selling prices for sculptures auctioned.


5. Guennol Lioness, unknown sculptor – $65.3 million, adjusted

ancient sculptures list

The Guennol Lioness is the most expensive sculpture made in Antiquity. The 5-millennia-old work of art was found in one piece near Baghdad, Iraq. The sculpture is of a muscular humanoid lioness. It was sold for $57.2 million at Sotheby’s last 2007.

It was first acquired by a private collector, Alastair Bradley Martin in 1948 from Joseph Brummer’s collection, and was displayed in Brooklyn Museum of art before it was sold. The Guennol lioness at its time of latest sale was the most expensive sculpture sold, surpassing Picasso’s Tete de femme. Three years after its sale, the Guennol Lioness was surpassed by one of Giacometti’s works.

Sotheby’s describes the lioness as one of the last masterpieces from the early civilizations that landed on private ownership. This humanoid lioness is believed to be an Elamite figure made at around 3000 B.C., the same era when the first wheels were used, the cuneiform writing system was developed, and the first cities were built. Anthropomorphic animals were worshiped as deities and revered as mythical creatures.


4. Balloon Dog 3D, Jeff Koons – $59.3 million, adjusted

most expensive sculptures ever

Jeff Koons once again makes this list for his orange Balloon Dog 3D art that was sold for $58 million dollars. The artwork became the most expensive piece of art ever sold that was made by a living artist.

The American artist, who became famous for his inflatable 3D artworks, stated that he enjoys making these types of sculptures because of how air represents us as living, breathing machines. Koon is a fun and admirable artist.

He uses factory-style methods to produce his artworks. He requires help from skillful metalworkers and other artists for his output. Despite critics jumping on him because of his ways, people don’t mind at all. People are willing to pay big money for his creations, either way.


3. Tête, Amedeo Modigliani – $64.6 million, adjusted

expensive sculpture list

This limestone sculpture is among the most expensive artworks ever sold. An anonymous phone bidder bought Tête for €43.2 million at Christie’s in France.

The piece was under the care of Gaston Levy, Modigliani’s acquaintance. The sculpture portrays a head of a female wearing a tribal mask, with hair swept back. Modigliani was inspired by African sculpture and simplified form employed by his mentor, who was none other than Constantin Brâncuși himself.

Critics describe Tête as a form simplified to geometric shapes and rigid symmetry. The sculpture was sold within the first ten minutes of bidding.


2. L’Homme qui marche I, Alberto Giacometti – $113.2 million, adjusted

most expensive sculptures list

L’Homme qui marche I, or The Walking Man I, is the name of any of the bronze-cast sculptures of Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti.

On February 2013, its second edition cast became one of the most expensive artworks auctioned and the most expensive sculpture until May 2015, when another Giacometti sculpture took the top rank. The sculpture cast in bronze depicts a solo man halfway through a stride with arms on his sides.

It exudes a vibe of a humble man that represents humanity at an average. The stride, which shows not power or stagnancy, but natural flow depicts man’s life force.

L’Homme Qui Marche was brought to reality at the peak of Giacomettis study on the human form. This sculpture is one of the great icons of modern art.


1. L’Homme au doigt, Alberto Giacometti – $141.3 million, adjusted

the most expensive sculpture ever, L'Homme au doigt

Another Giacometti masterpiece nabbed the top spot for the most expensive sculpture in history. L’Homme au doigt, or the Pointing Man, is a bronze sculpture made in 1947 that was sold for a record-breaking US$141.3 million just last May 11, 2015.

The work has not changed hands for 45 years until the recent sale. Christie’s labeled it as a rare masterpiece and Giacometti’s most iconic sculpture and knew that it will definitely sell at the $130 million range.

Christie’s also believed that Giacometti increased the value of the sculpture by painting it by hand, the only sculpture that had this treatment.