How much is this worth? How should its value be measured?
This sculpture is made of bronze, and measures 5′ 10″ x 3′ 5″ x 1′ 4″. Obviously, the thinness of the figure greatly reduced the amount of metal needed to fabricate it. Because the price of bronze is closely tied to the price of copper (a main ingredient), the rising price of the latter has pushed the cost of using bronze up into the neighborhood of $5-$7/pound. However, weight figures for this piece are nowhere to be found on the internet, so some guesstimating is in order:
- approximately 26.5 cubic feet of volume;
- I would visually estimate the actual metal of this extremely thin man occupying maybe 15% of that volume –> approximately 4 cubic feet of actual metal;
- bronze weighs approximately 541 lbs per cubic foot –> 2,164 pounds;
Finally, this sculpture is only 69 years old, so it doesn’t carry any historical value from representing antiquity.
Using these conservative estimates, and the highest price for bronze I can find on the ‘tubes … this statue of a man pointing has, at most, $15,000 of cost of materials tied up in it. Add to that nine hours of labor costs. What is the value of an hour of a sculptor’s labor? $100? $500? $1000? At that generous rate of $1000/hour, the artist’s labor costs push this sculpture’s value to close to $25,000.
One other fact worth noting in assessing its value: this piece is Man Pointing by Alberto Giacometti … and that fact alone adds $141 MILLION. The total costs of labor and materials adds up to nothing more than a rounding error not worth mentioning in the press reports about the sale of this sculpture.
Perhaps there’s something more to value than mere materials and labor…