UPDATE, 6/9/15: According to the New York Times, 2015’s buyer of Pointing Man—and Chariot in 2014—was hedge fund manager, Steven A. Cohen.
Cohen grew up in Great Neck, New York—his father was a dress manufacturer in Manhattan’s garment district; his mother was a part-time piano teacher. He has 7 other brothers and sisters.
It appears that the Giacometti’s will stay in the United States. Cohen lives in Connecticut and is amassing a tremendous art collection.
Alberto Giacometti created just six bronze castings of his ground-breaking sculpture, L’homme au doigt, and this May—for the first time in 45 years—one of them is coming to auction at Christie’s, New York.
According to the sculpture caption at London’s Tate Modern:
Man Pointing was made very rapidly in 1947 for Giacometti’s first exhibition in New York. The artist recalled: ‘I did that piece in one night between midnight and nine the next morning. That is, I’d already done it but I demolished it and did it all over again because the men from the foundry were coming to take it away. And when they got here, the plaster was still wet.’ Man Pointing was originally intended to be part of a larger composition, with the left arm positioned loosely around a second figure. Giacometti later abandoned the idea, and considered Man Pointing to be a complete work.
Christie’s expands on Giacometti’s rapid production of Man Pointing,
Giacometti’s first solo exhibition in nearly 15 years was due to open at Pierre Matisse’s gallery in New York the following January, and time was running short. He was nearing the end of a year of extraordinary productivity, in which he had begun to grow his diminutive ‘pin people’ into life-size figures exhibiting his famously attenuated, wraith-like style.
On this particular night, his looming deadline spurred the sculptor to new heights of creativity and daring, reaching a crescendo in the early hours when his prototype was completed. ‘I did that piece… between midnight and nine the next morning,’ Giacometti told his biographer James Lord. ‘That is, I’d already done it, but I demolished it and did it all over again because the men from the foundry were coming to take it away. And when they got here, the plaster was still wet.’
When his solo exhibition at Pierre Matisse Gallery opened in January 1948 in New York, L’homme au doigt was front and centre — part of a trio of life-sized figures that formed the focal point of the show, which also included his celebrated figures Walking Man and one of his Standing Women. The exhibition was an instant sensation, introducing his radically innovative style and body of work to New York’s post-war art scene.
This cast of L’homme au doigt comes to market with a distinctly American provenance, having been purchased direct from Pierre Matisse in 1953. Its original owners were the celebrated collectors Dr. Fred and Florence Olsen, whose wide-ranging interests extended from Chinese and pre-Columbian art and objects to Abstract Expressionism. The Olsens were also the first owners of Jackson Pollock’s famous masterpiece Blue Poles (1952), and the two great modernist works shared pride of place in the couple’s custom-built Connecticut home, still known as The Olsen House, which they commissioned from the architect, painter, and sculptor Tony Smith. By 1970, the work passed into the collection of the current owner, a distinguished private collector who has kept it for the last 45 years.
Giacometti is the only sculptor whose work, to date, has surpassed the $100 million mark at auction. In the last five years four Giacometti bronzes have sold for more than $50 million, including Walking Man, which holds the current record for any work by the artist at $103.9 million, and Grand Tête Mince, from the Brody Collection, which soared above its pre-sale estimate of $25-30 million to achieve $53.2 million at Christie’s.
Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie’s global president, said of the sculpture in a statement, It is quite simply one of the finest works of art I have had the honor to handle in my long career at Christie’s.
I think Pylkkanen’s statement is understatement.
You can get your paddle number at Christie’s.