The £58m Giacometti at Sotheby's was just one of a number of works at the series that demonstrated a renewed confidence among both buyers and sellers of top-end art.
While the record-breaking sculpture came to Sotheby's from the Dresdner Bank in Germany, an important landscape by Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), which went missing during the Second World War, was consigned to the same saleroom after the auctioneers brokered a restitution agreement between the anonymous owner and the heirs of the Viennese collectors Paula and Viktor Zuckerkandl.
Estimated at £12m-18m, it drew four bidders and sold on the telephone at £24m.
Sotheby's also had Paul Cézanne's (1839-1906) oil-on-paper Pichet et Fruits sur une Table, which was being sold by a European collector.
Although it had failed to sell at Sotheby's New York in May 2001 against an estimate of $14m-20m, it sold here at £10.5m to a telephone buyer, just above its £10m low estimate.
These three works helped Sotheby's to a £130.5m hammer total for their evening sale, the highest ever for an auction staged in London.
This result was well above the £69.1m-102m pre-sale estimate and substantially ahead of rivals Christie's Impressionist and Modern evening sale on February 2, which made £66.7m and included £8.51m from the 38-lot Art of the Surreal sale.
Top lot at Christie's was the 1963 Tête de Femme (Jacqueline) by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) that was consigned by the daughters of the Chicago collectors Kenneth and Bernice Newberger, who had been victims in the Bernard Madoff scandal.
With a £3m-4m estimate, it attracted six bidders, including Russian buyers, but sold to a UK private telephone bidder at £7.2m.
Russian interest also emerged on Natalia Goncharova's (1881-1962) Espagnole from c.1916, which was knocked down to a telephone bid via a member of Christie's Russian art department.
Consigned by a Swiss collector who had owned it since the early 1980s, it sold for a record £5.7m, the highest price for a painting by a female artist.
With serious levels of demand again emerging at the very top of the market, the overall amount of money raised at the Impressionist and Modern series was £225.8m, massively up on the £108.8m for the equivalent series last year.
By Alex Capon