If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then art lies in the eyes of the artist, or at least the ability to filter art from scrap. English painter John Craxton recognized a work of genius at an antique shop in London in 1960. Without any delay, Craxton paid $300 for the chandelier he correctly inferred to be the work of the great sculptor Alberto Giacometti. The artist hung the fixture in his home in Hampstead for 50 years. The 1940s creation was recently sold by Christie’s at auction for a cool $3.52 million, more than the estimated range of $1.8 million to $3 million.
In 2021, the Fondation Giacometti in Paris authenticated the lighting fixture dubbing it one of the most significant admissions in the sculptor’s career. “The market for Alberto and his brother Diego Giacometti design pieces has never been stronger, with the top price for a Giacometti chandelier at auction being £7,602,400 in 2018 for a bronze from 1949,” said Michelle McMullan from Christie’s.
John Craxton’s biographer, Ian Collins, also a trustee of Craxton’s estate, said, per The Guardian, “The Chandelier for Peter Watson displays the different streams of creative thinking that occupied Giacometti during this productive period. It was hung in the Bloomsbury offices of Horizon in 1949, but the magazine closed the following year. It was removed from the building and placed in storage, although we don’t know how it found its way to Denton’s antiques shop in Marylebone Road. It is likely that, along with other artworks from the offices, Watson gave them to Cyril Connolly, but the details may always remain a mystery.”