Si Newhouse's 'Falling' Fortune

It's been a brutal few weeks at Condé Nast as the magazine giant has shut down four magazines and slashed hundreds of jobs. The pain, however, isn't limited to the rank and file. A prized piece of art from the collection of Condé Nast chairman Si Newhouse goes up for auction tomorrow at Sotheby's and despite the fact he stands to lose much as $10 million by selling now at the market abyss, Newhouse has opted to try and unload the piece anyway. Desperate times call for desperate measures, it seems.

The work in question is a sculpture by Alberto Giacometti entitled "L'Homme Qui Chavire." The official estimate for the 1950 work, per Sotheby's, is $8-12 million. But what's telling is that the media mogul and voracious art collector is selling it at all, considering he reportedly paid "in excess of $20 million" for the sculpture several years ago.

According to Art Market Monitor, Newhouse twice tried to sell the sculpture privately, first for $20 million and again for $16 million. No interested buyers came forward, however, so presumably Newhouse decided to bite the bullet and take his chances at auction. Whether Newhouse's very determined effort to part ways with the work is because he needs to liquidate some of his holdings and raise cash is purely speculation, of course. Although the name of the sculpture—and what it signifies—may not sit well with Newhouse as he watches his media empire contract. In French, "L'Homme Qui Chavire" translates as the "falling man," although the verb is also used to denote someone who is "capsizing" or "drowning."

If you're interested, you'll find a video clip below featuring Simon Shaw, Sotheby's head of modern art, as he describes the Giacometti sculpture in more detail. Just in case you're looking to add something special to your art collection and potentially save another Condé Nast magazine from going under in the process.

Lot 10: L'Homme Qui Chavire [Sotheby's]
New York Sale Preview: Imp/Mod [Art Market Monitor]
Sotheby’s Scores Two Big Lots for Fall [ArtInfo]
Giacometti & Warhol Star at Sotheby's [Art Market Monitor]