Art aficionados are aware that Alberto Giacometti's "The Walking Man 1" (L'Homme Qui Marche 1) was once the world's most valuable sculpture. The bronze, life-sized sculpture of a thin, lone man in mid-stride got sold for $104 million at Sotheby's London auction in 2010. But the Italian-Swiss sculptor beat his own record during Christie's New York auction in 2015. His masterpiece called “Pointing Man” (L’homme au doigt), fetched $141 million, easily eclipsing his previous work’s sales record.
When the works of an artist garnered world record prices twice in a span of five years, people get curious. What's so captivating about Giacometti's emaciated sculptures to command ridiculously high price tags? How are these two bronze figures more valuable than other sculptures?
According to experts, both works represent Giacometti’s bold experimentation with the human form, his distinct style, and intriguing storytelling. To discerning art collectors, these bronze sculptures are among the most iconic images of Impressionist and Modern art that are available for purchase. It's not everyday that you can own masterful works because even if you can afford to buy the finest works in history, museums must have already seized them.
Notice how the most expensive sculpture's pointing finger is open to a lot of interpretations. Yet one theory dominates: deprived of food, the skeletal figure seems to be casting blame for his hunger and suffering. He could be blaming anyone. The government, his family, fate, or even the recent buyer who spent millions on a piece of art instead of helping the needy.
Do you find valuing works of art a ridiculous, if not baffling, exercise?