Ai Weiwei’s Zodiac Heads Lead $28.3 Million Sale at Phillips

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Ai Weiwei's "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads" depicts the signs of the ancient Chinese zodiac. Source: Phillips via Bloomberg

A group of 12 large bronze animal heads by China’s dissident artist Ai Weiwei led Phillips’s 18 million pound ($28.3 million) contemporary art evening auction in London.

“Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads,” which depicts the signs of the ancient Chinese zodiac, fetched 3.4 million pounds on Monday, within its presale estimate of 3 million pounds to 5 million pounds. It was the sale’s top lot and set an auction record for the artist.

Each animal head is displayed on an individual stand, with the largest piece, a rooster, at 12.5-feet-tall. The 2010 work, which is the first in an edition of six, has been exhibited at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 2010, New York’s Pulitzer Fountain near Central Park in 2011 and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington in 2012.

Ai’s previous auction record of 2.9 million pounds was set in February, also at Phillips, for a smaller, gold-plated version of the 12 zodiac animals.

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