The Top 10 sculptors sold for USD 5,000–15,000



Fridays are the Best! Every other Friday, Artprice offers you a themed auction ranking. Beyond record hammer prices, the leader of information on the Art Market reveals the list of the ten most sold artists in the USD 5,000-15,000 price range. A few days after the world record set by Alberto Giacometti at USD 141m including fees (with L’homme au doigt, or Pointing Man, Christie’s, 11 May 2015), the Top 10 is focussed on more affordable sculpture.

The Top 10 sculptors sold for USD 5,000–15,000
Rank Artist Number of sculptures sold in 2014
1 Fernandez ARMAN 110
2 Jesús Rafael SOTO 37
3 Salvador DALI 36
4 Antoine Louis BARYE 30
5 CÉSAR 29
6 Dimitri CHIPARUS 28
7 Adolf LUTHER 23
8 Pablo PICASSO 23
10 August GAUL 21
copyright © 2015


What was possible with Alberto Giacometti ten years ago—namely, acquiring small sculptures for less than USD 15,000—is no longer possible today. His price index exploded by +386 % between 2000 and 2015 because Giacometti is, along with Picasso and Warhol, one of the most sought-after artists by the world’s very wealthy. Renowned artists are not necessarily unaffordable for all that, far from it… In a recent article, analysed Pablo Picasso’s ceramics market (see Ceramist Picasso—a Booming Market, published 5 May 2015 on ArtMarketInsight.). It appears that numerous pieces are still accessible for less than USD 3,000 on the auction market. In the USD 5,000–15,000 price range, the current ranking puts Picasso in eighth place among the world’s most sold sculptors (23 works were sold in this price range in 2014), with ceramics, but also with medals and glass works. Picasso is not the only major artist of the 20th century whose three-dimensional production was overabundant, some of the other most celebrated artists created strong pieces, accessible for less than USD 15,000 today. The most prolific of the genre is Salvador Dali, but his market proves complex.


The tricky market of Salvador Dali

Dali’s market is full of limited edition works (lithographs and sculptures) and unfortunately numerous forgeries flood this market. Thus, caution is essential… The buyer can request information on how the desired work was issued, notably concerning the date and limit for the number of copies of the work concerned. Sculptures and multiples (more than 12 copies) to give priority to are those cast during the artist’s lifetime, before 1989. Alongside this already dense production, numerous works cast posthumously are in circulation. These pieces are generally reproductions of works authorized by license. Yet, Dali sometimes sorely lacked precision on the conditions for editions. The Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí is very clear on this subject, revealing that “The authorisation of these reproductions comes from reproduction rights granted by Dalí in certain contracts he signed. Nevertheless, at times Dalí was hardly explicit in establishing the parameters governing how his works were issued, neglecting to specify important aspects such as the number of copies, the type of material and the exact dimensions. This is why the editions issued from contracts which he was able to supervise while alive, and thus validate, are one thing, and those which were created posthumously, which the artist could not approve, are something else entirely. Thus, this part of the sculptural production of Salvador Dalí acquires the status of a merchandising piece, and it cannot be granted either artistic or commercial value in the art market” (source Fondation Dali, section Reproduction of the work of Salvador Dalí authorized by license). In all cases, acquisition of a Dalinian work requires guarantees…
Due to the numerous editions authorised, a number of renowned bronzes by Dali are accessible for less than USD 15,000. For example, auction house Cornette de Saint Cyr sold the famous Cabinet anthropomorphique – a 60 cm version in bronze, #114/300 signed, bearing the seal of art caster Foneria Mibrosa, Barcelona – for USD 11,000, of USD 14,000 including fees (sale 30 March 2015). In 2014 alone, no less than seven Cabinets anthropomorphiques of this size were sold around the world, for hammer prices ranging from USD 12,350–39,000. Moreover, foundry Mibrosa has created small versions in silver and polished bronze (23 cm, and 330 copies each), accessible for less than USD 5,000 at auction. The Cabinet anthropomorphique has also become a regular “object” at auction, its price ranging from USD 3,000–70,000 depending on the edition.


From multiple to single with Arman

Famous for his “Accumulations,” his “Garbage Cans,” “Angers,” “Cups” and “Combustions,” redirecting manufactured objects and waste, Nouveau Réaliste (New Realist) Arman issued many pieces in bronze. Cut musical instruments, in an edition of 100, and the Statue of Liberty cut into slices (Slices of Liberty, 78 cm bronze issued in an edition of 150) make up part of his affordable works for less than USD 15,000, but not only… in the dense production of Arman, primarily composed of sculpture (66% of market), original and unique works are sometimes accessible for less than USD 10,000. This was the case in April at Christie’s Paris, where an accumulation of rubber boots went for less than USD 7,500 including fees (Raining Days, 28 April 2015). This type of unique work is a real bargain because, while French, Arman is also bought by Americans (sparingly), which boosts his popularity.

The auction market offers a majority of 20th-century works, European artists or those who built their career in Europe, which does nothing to limit the variety offered: bronze wildlife from German August Gaul and French Antoine Barye; dancers from the great Art Déco period by Dimitri Chiparus; kinetic, optical works from German Adolf Luther and Venezuelan Jesus Rafael Soto (whose work is now supported by the prestigious art dealer Emmanuel Perrotin). In this ranking of affordable sculptures from USD 5,000–15,000, a Chinese artist is also emerging, Yoyo Yang, whose abstract sculptures in stainless steel are also sure to seduce Western collectors.