It was the best £800k they ever spent. Twenty years ago, Antony Gormley’s totem pole for Gateshead celebrating the future of England’s North through the skills and prowess of its industrial past of coal mining, milled steel, engineering and welding was installed, according to the Financial Times:
In the two decades since, it has become a beloved landmark and an icon of the region. The 200-tonne sculpture is Britain’s most-viewed piece of public modern art, seen by an estimated 33m road and rail travellers each year. But despite its contemporary success, the Angel of the North sprang from difficulty. In the early 1990s, faced with decline in heavy industry, the local authority in Gateshead turned to art as a means of economic regeneration.
In October, Yusaku Maezawa bought an early version of the sculpture for £5.3m at Christie’s. This March Sotheby’s brings one of the dozen or so smaller maquettes of the giant hillside sculpture to market guaranteed and with an irrevocable bid (£1.5-2m).
The top price paid for one of these was in 2011 when a 6+ ft version made $5.3m (up from $4.5m in 2008.). This particular 3+ ft version sold in 2014 in NY at Sotheby’s for $1.685m. Earlier, in 2008 and 2011, other examples had made $1m.
How Angel of the North disarmed its harshest critics (Financial Times)