Let’s continue our acquaintance with the most expensive sculptures ever sold at auction. Except for those that have already been mentioned, we want to also emphasize the incredible work by one of the most prominent living artists, Jeff Koons. His “Balloon Dog (Orange)” created in 1994-2000 was sold at Christie’s New York in 2013 for a record $58.4 million. However, returning to our list of the most expensive sculptures in the world, it is impossible not to note some more masterpieces.
“Guennol Lioness” (circa 3000–2800 B.C.)
Created in ancient Mesopotamia about 5,000 years ago, this limestone statue was found in 1931 near Baghdad, Iraq. Depicting an anthropomorphic figure of a lioness-woman measuring just over 8cm, the “Guennol Lioness” was designed to be worn around the neck. Since 1948, this work owned by the famous American collector Alastair Bradley Martin was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum of Art until its sale in 2007 at Sotheby’s New York. The antique “Lioness” set a record price for the sculpture to that date, being sold for $57.1 million and exceeding the record of “Tete de Femme (Dora Maar)” by Pablo Picasso with its $29.1 million. The auction winner preferred to remain anonymous.
“Large Head of Diego” (1954)
The bronze sculpture depicts the younger brother of Alberto Giacometti, Diego, who was a favorite model of the Swiss master. In fact, there are several similar “heads,” and the last one from this sculpture series was sold at Sotheby’s in 2013 for $50 million. It is interesting that “Large Head of Diego” was originally created for the outdoor installation in New York. However, the work was suspended because of the artist’s death. This sculpture estimated at $25-35 million went under the hammer for $53.3 million at the Christie’s auction in 2010.
“Back IV (Nu de dos, 4 état)” (1958)
This life-size bronze sculpture by Henri Matisse is called the brightest of the “Backs” series of four works and the greatest creation of modernist sculpture of the twentieth century. Moreover, it was the first sculpture from this series to put up for auction. Its height is 183cm, and its weight is more than 270kg. “Back IV (Nu de dos, 4 état)” was initially estimated at $25-35 million. Nonetheless, in 2010, it was sold by a private European collector for a record for Matisse’s works ever sold at auction $48.8 million.
“Madame L.R.” (1914-1917)
Constantin Brancusi, the legendary Romanian sculptor, received world popularity in Paris where he had lived for 35 years. In 1914-1917, the artist known as the founder of the sculpture abstraction created one of his most famous masterpieces – a wooden statue titled “Madame L.R.” It is thought that this work conveys the traditional style of the Carpathian carving and the influence of African art on the author’s creativity. The sculpture was sold for $37.2 million in 2009 at Christie’s Paris as part of the art collection that belonged to the French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.