Ai Weiwei Zodiac Sculptures Sell for Record $5.4M

Ai Weiwei's Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads has sold for $5.4 million at a Phillips sale—a record for the "dissident" Chinese artist's work at auction.

Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads. (Photo: courtesy of Phillips)
Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads. (Photo: courtesy of Phillips)

Ai Weiwei‘s Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads has sold for $5.4 million at a Phillips sale—a record for the “dissident” Chinese artist’s work at auction.

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The bronze sculpture series from 2010 was acquired by an unidentified buyer; the sum achieved bested a February record, also set at a Phillips auction, of approximately $4.4 million, for a gold-plated series. It was later reported that that sale was to tech entrepreneur and Napster co-founder Sean Parker.

The series sold today in London consists of 12 heads in bronze, each depicting a sign of the ancient Chinese zodiac. The statues range in size, with the largest more than 12 feet tall, and each sit atop a stand with a broad base.

“The market continues to react best to works of art which are offered with sensible and appealing estimates, and we’re thrilled in particular to have seen such a strong result for Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads which set a new record for the artist,” said Peter Sumner, director and head of Contemporary Art, London, for Phillips, in a statement.

Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads was produced in six full-scale bronze editions and six gold-plated smaller editions for indoor display. The work was first publicly exhibited in Central Park in 2011.

It’s a busy week in London’s contemporary scene, with two more auctions still to come: Christie’s tonight and Sotheby’s tomorrow night. Christie’s sale is lead by Yves Klein’s Peinture de feu couleur sans titre, a painting from the last year of Klein’s life and Sotheby’s headliners are three Francis Bacon paintings, including one from his screaming Popes series.

Ai Weiwei Zodiac Sculptures Sell for Record $5.4M