Giacometti sculpture sells for world record £65m

A life-size bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti has been sold at auction for the world record price of £65,001,250.

It took just eight minutes for bidders to reach the hammer price after L'Homme Qui Marche I opened at £12 million at Sotheby's in London yesterday.

The winning bid - the highest for any work of art ever sold at auction - was made over the phone by an anonymous buyer.

The sculpture is considered to be one of the most important by the 20th-century Swiss artist.

It had been estimated to sell for between £12 million and £18 million.

But furious bidding saw more than 10 rivals bump the price up to ever higher levels, eventually topping the £65 million mark.

In so doing it beat the 104,168,000 US dollar (£58,520,830) price paid for the previous auction record holder - Pablo Picasso's Garcon a la Pipe which was sold in New York in 2004.

In a bumper night for Sotheby's, one of the other highlights of the Impressionist and Modern Art sale also exceeded expectations.

Gustav Klimt's Kirche in Cassone went for £26,921,250, far above the £12 million to £18 million estimate.

It proved to be a record price for a Klimt landscape and the second highest auction bid for any work by the Austrian painter.

Paul Cezanne's Pichet et Fruits sur une table was sold for just under £12 million.

Commenting on the evening's record breaking sale, Melanie Clore, co-chairman worldwide of Sotheby's impressionist and modern art department said: "We are thrilled to have sold these great works and that they have been recognised for the masterpieces that they are.

"The competition which generated these exceptional results demonstrates the continued quest for quality that compels today's collectors."

The sale of L'Homme Qui Marche I marked the first time that a Giacometti of its size had gone under the hammer in more than 20 years.

Cast in 1961 at the height of the artist's mature period, it was bought by Dresdner Bank in the early 1980s.

Proceeds from yesterday's sale will go towards foundations and selected museums supported by Commerzbank, which took over Dresdner in 2009.

Art business expert Henry Lydiate said he was not shocked by the huge price tag.

He said: "I am not overly surprised because of the status of the artists and the rarity of the piece."

Mr Lydiate suggested that the buyer was unlikely to be a major public collection, but a wealthy individual buying the piece as either an investment or because they were a genuine collector.