Sotheby's sees Giacometti cat fetching $16-22 million

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Sotheby’s will offer a sculpture of a cat by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti at auction in New York in May and expects it to fetch $16-22 million.

The 1951 bronze sculpture “Le Chat” has been in a private European collection since the 1960s, and the last time a cast of it appeared at auction in May 1975, it sold for $130,000, Sotheby’s said on Friday.

In 1951 the artist had his first solo exhibition, at Galerie Maeght in Paris.

The show, which included the plaster cast of Le Chat, helped propel Giacometti to his status as one of the foremost avant-garde artists working in Paris at the time.

The auction record for a Giacometti is $27.5 million set by Christie’s in New York in May, 2008.

The appearance of Le Chat on the market follows other recent high prices achieved for sculptures, including Edgar Degas’ “Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans” which sold for $18.8 million at Sotheby’s in February.

Le Chat will go on public display at Sotheby’s in Moscow on April 1-2, in London on April 22-25 and in New York on May 1-5.

It will be offered at Sotheby’s evening sale of impressionist and modern art in New York on May 5.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Steve Addison