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
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%.