The Most Expensive Sculpture Ever Sold

The ​L'Homme au doigt​, the most expensive sculpture ever sold.
The ​L'Homme au doigt​, the most expensive sculpture ever sold.

Which Is The Most Expensive Sculpture Ever Sold?

The L'Homme au doigt or the Pointing Man is a bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti that was sold for $141.3 million becoming the most expensive ever sold sculpture. Giacometti became the only sculptor to have his work surpassing the $100 million dollar mark at any auction. The Walking Man which precedes the Pointing Man in the Walking Man series also sold at a good price of about $113.4 million. These two sculptures are a great representation of Giacometti skillful hand at the prime age of his career. Other iconic and evocative sculptures are the five millennium old Guennol Lioness and the Tête sculpture both which have achieved international recognition and acknowledgment.

Human Fascination for Man-Made Sculptures

Sculptures from a steady hand of an artist have always attained human respect and fascination. Most sculptures are impossibly realistic tapping in our natural curiosity about our humanity in the physical form and emotional, spiritual or mental scope. Our fascination of what humanity looks like and how it has evolved over the centuries drives artists to construct a super human-made wonder that people find humanly impossible. For example, L'Homme au doit depicts a broad range of possibilities. From the way the man walks one can say it’s a simple representation of humanity but the pin like form represents the rise of man from possibly the ashes of past civilizations. Likewise, the Mesopotamian sculpture Guennol Lioness indicates how humanity fancies controlling the earth by combining a woman and lion form to an anthropomorphic creature. In general, man has continued to show preference of masterpiece sculptures that express our emotions and desires. Sculptures have allowed humankind to interrogate physical reality and also give room for us to question visual perceptions. Each sculpture tells a story which raises the issue of humanity narrow aesthetic ideals. Thus, people also view art as a source of pride and wealth. That is why pieces of art sell out like gold in art galas around the world.

Buyers And Sellers Of Expensive Sculptures

Sotheby’s in February 2010 auctioned L'Homme au dough sculpture to Steven Cohen, an American billionaire. The Walking Man auctioned at Sotheby’s was sold by Commerzbank, a German banking group. Lily Safra, a widow of Edmond Safra, a prominent Lebanese banker bought the sculpture within eight minutes. This statue broke the record after surpassing the 2008 Femme Debout II piece of art by Giacometti. Alastair Bradley James acquired the Guennol Lioness in 1948 and loaned it to Brooklyn Museum of Art. It stayed there until its auction day at Sotheby’s auction house. Gaston Levy, a keen artist, and Modigliani acquaintance, had purchased the art in 1927. During the June 14, 2010, Impressionist and Modern Art auction, Tête was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder who paid around $64.7 million many auctioneers, however, prefer to remain anonymous.

L'Homme au doigt

The pointing man sculpture known as L'Homme au doigt is a 1947 bronze piece of art credited to Alberto Giacometti. On May 11, 2015, the sculptures became the most expensive sold piece when it sold for US$141.3 million. The artist made six casts plus one artist’s proof. Four of these sculptures are in the main museums while the remaining are in private ownership and foundation collections. The sculpture is a masterpiece catalog in the Museum of Modern Art and Tate Gallery in New York and London respectively. The pointing man is cast in bronze and stands whippet-thin at about five feet by 10 inches. Giacometti executed the pointing man in a single night. His wrath-like style of transforming his "pin-people" into small life-size figures had reached greatest heights in 1947. The power projected by this charismatic figure has achieved international recognition and regarded as a significant and creative fervor achievements of modern age.

L'Homme qui marche I

L'Homme qui marche I, popularly known as the Walking Man is another masterpiece of the great Alberto Giacometti. Cast in bronze, the art consists of four artist’s proofs and six numbered editions. On February 3, 2010, the second edition cast became the most expensive sculpture ever sold before the Pointing Man surpassed it in May 2015. Giacometti made it in 1961, and the sculpture captures a fleeting moment of a lone man mid-stride with arms hanging at his sides. The art projects a simple image of a man, which is a potent symbol of humanity. When creating this piece Giacometti tried to capture humanity beyond the physical reality and thus came the walking man which reflected a lonely and vulnerable human. Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art, contains the number one edition of the cast. The other casts are masterpieces in the Foundation Maeght in Saint Paul, Albright-Knox Art Gallery in New York, and the Alpes Maritimes.


Constructed somewhere in 1910–1912 by Amedeo Modigliani, Tête become one of the most expensive ever sold sculptures in the modern era when it traded at $64.7 million on June 14, 2010. Cast in 27 sculptures Tête has a limestone head standing over 2 feet tall. The head resembles that of a woman wearing a cultural mask with a swept back hair. The masterpiece draws its allure from African tribal cultures and is also a simplification of Modigliani’s mentor, Constantin Brancusi. It depicts a haunting mystery with its rigid personal front layout. The first exhibition was in Salon D’Automne in 1912.

Guennol Lioness

Guennol Lioness is a five millenniums old Mesopotamian statue in Baghdad, Iraq and the third most expensive sculpture ever sold. The sculpture depicts a powerful and anthropomorphic lioness woman symbolizing the belief that Mesopotamian would attain power over the physical world. The art also represents a characteristic hunting feature of a species well coordinated by female hunters. The sculpture has a white crystalline limestone cast. It blends a woman and lion with a life-like head. It stands at a mere 8.8cm high. Guennol Lioness’s uniqueness lies in the history it was constructed when the first ever knowledge of use of the wheel, the emergence of civilizations, and development of writing. On December 5, 2007, the sculpture sold at $65.4 million.

Which Is The Most Expensive Sculpture Ever Sold?

RankAdjusted price (in millions US)SculptureArtistYearDate of sale
1$141.3L'Homme au doigtAlberto Giacometti194711 May 2015
2$113.4L'Homme qui marche IAlberto Giacometti19613 February 2010
3$64.7TêteAmedeo Modigliani1910–191214 June 2010
4$59.4Balloon Dog (Orange)Jeff Koons1994–200012 November 2013
5$65.4Guennol LionessUnknownc.3000 BC5 December 2007
6$57.9Grande tête minceAlberto Giacometti19554 May 2010
7$50.9Grand tête mince (Grand tête de Diego)Alberto Giacometti19556 November 2013
8$53.0Nu de dos, 4 état (Back IV)Henri Matisse19583 November 2010
9$41.5Madame LR (Portrait de Mme LR)Constantin Brâncuși1914–1724 February 2009
10$34.8TulipsJeff Koons1995-200414 November 2012
11$31.1Reclining Figure: FestivalHenry Moore19517 February 2012
12$33.3Tete de femme (Dora Maar)Pablo Picasso19417 November 2007
13$32.7Artemis and the StagUnknownc.100 BC – 100 AD7 June 2007
14$33.4Bird in SpaceConstantin Brâncuși1922–19235 May 2005
15$30.2Grande Femme Debout IIAlberto Giacometti1959–19606 May 2008

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