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Giacometti sculpture sells for record $104M

By Phil Han, CNN
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$104 million for a sculpture?
  • A mystery bidder paid $104 million for a Giacometti sculpture
  • It was the most paid for a piece of art sold at auction
  • A Gustav Klimt landscape painting took in $43 million
  • The entire auction took in a record-breaking $235 million on the night
  • Art History
  • Painting
  • Visual Arts

London, England (CNN) -- A mystery bidder has paid $104.3 million for a piece of art in London, making it the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

Alberto Giacometti's "L'homme qui marche 1 (Walking Man 1)" was sold in less than eight minutes to an anonymous telephone bidder during an auction at Sotheby's.

The previous record for a piece of art sold at auction was $104.1 million for Pablo Picasso's "Garcon a la Pipe."

"We knew that there was going to be a lot of demand for this great piece of art, but we were really amazed," said Melanie Clore, deputy chairman of Sotheby's.

"We knew that this was an incredibly important and rare masterpiece and probably one of the most important sculptures of the 21st century."

Would you pay $104 million for the sculpture?

The life-size bronze sculpture of a man was made in 1961 and was originally cast in an edition of six by the Swiss artist.

It was a record-breaking night for the auction house, as another piece of art was sold for $43 million, making it the most ever paid for a landscape artwork.

The painting by Gustav Klimt entitled "Kirche in Cassone" was purchased by another mystery buyer.

It was the first time in decades that the Klimt painting became available to the public for auction.

"This is a painting that was never on the market and hidden away a long time ago," Clore said.

"It was stolen by the Nazis, finally returned to its rightful owners, and now we are lucky to have it come to the market. There was a real hunger and thirst for something like this."

The night's auction had 39 works, and the total sale price was a staggering $235 million, making it the highest value sale ever staged in London.

Read about the five most expensive pieces of art to go on the block

Bidding came from 30 countries, and the majority of the buyers were anonymous.

"These are just serious people who are important collectors and really want to own these spectacular pieces," Clore said.

"When they see these pieces of art, they fall in love ... just as they would fall in love with a person."