Wednesday - 01 October 2014

£17m record for a British sculpture

13 February 2012Written by ATG Reporter

PRICES for Henry Moore (1898-1986) have been rising consistently in recent years, but the performance of this large-scale bronze sculpture at auction last week dramatically lifted the artist to previously unseen levels.

Offered at Christie's evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art on February 7, the 8ft (2.45m) long figure was one of five bronze casts (plus artist's proof) of the sculpture exhibited by Moore at the 1951 Festival of Britain.

Drawing multiple bidders against a £3.5m-5.5m estimate, it was eventually knocked down at £17m to Cologne-based dealer Alex Lachmann (known to buy for Russian clients), who saw off determined underbidding on the phone.

The sum was over four times greater than the previous saleroom high for the artist - the £3.8m seen at Christie's in June 2008 for Draped Reclining Woman. It was also an auction record for any British sculpture.

Entitled Reclining Figure: Festival, the original is now in the Tate and other versions can be found in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris. Of the other three casts, two are believed to have sold privately in the last three years, while this example at Christie's had been owned since 1994 by the New York vendor who bought it at Sotheby's New York for $1.85m (£1.24m) hammer.

The buyer's premium was 25/20/12%.

Antiques Trade Gazette is the weekly bible of the fine art and antiques industry. Read articles like this every week in the Antiques Trade Gazette or ATG app. Click here to subscribe today.

Back to top