There are many reasons why people travel the world. In most cases, it is for relaxation, getting away from it all, the hustle and bustle of the city and the stress at work. However, others simply wish to explore, get closer to traditions and cultures from all distant corners of the world. The main tourist attractions on the Globe are actually landscapes, beaches, seas, cities, castles, and museums. Although, every once in a while, some statues come to represent a nation.
There are certain statues in the world whose notoriety rivals with the most attractive tourist attractions. There are people who travel thousands of miles just to see these impressive sculptures for themselves, as they are wonders of the world in the true sense of the word. Most often, they are not exposed in museums, they are found in the most unexpected of places, on top of a mountain, on a small island, or in private collections that are rarely open to the public. They have come to represent the emblematic image of a region, city, or country. These valuable assets have a special place in their home country's national patrimony, and are well protected, so that tourists can see them and photograph them without actually touching them, thus preserving them. Direct contact between a tourist and such a statue is often regarded as sacrilege.
Alongside painting, sculpture is one of the most fabulous arts. No wonder the value of certain art works exceeds imagination. While paintings depict fantastic or real scenes, portraits or landscapes, sculptures have a deeper symbolical meaning. Standing as proof to mankind's artistic skills and talent, the statues on our list stunned the world not only with their size, either incredibly tall or amazingly small, but also with their jaw-dropping costs.
10 Christ the Redeemer, $3.5 million
Each year, around 1.8 million tourists travel to Rio de Janeiro to see the famous monument of Christ the Redemeer, who watches over the lovely beaches at Copacabana. The colossal statue is considered one of the many modern wonders of the world. Dominating Corcovado Mountain, the monument was finalized in 1931 in Paris and is the work of architect and engineer Heitor da Silva Costa. Constructions lasted ten whole years. Paradoxically, the price was much lower than the one paid for other colossal monuments in the world. In 1931, it cost around $250,000 to build. Nowadays, that would translate into $3.5 million.
9 Madame L.R., $36.8 million
Sustaining the modernist art movement, Constantin Brancusi is a minimalist artist. Nevertheless, his work is always pleasant to the eye and quite appealing. Unlike the other statues on our list, Brancusi's work represents a conceptual purpose, rather than a narrative one. Madame L.R. was most likely sculpted sometime between 1914 and 1917. Previously owned by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, the 46 inch tall oak statue was sold in Paris in 2009 for $36.8 million.
8 The Statue of Liberty, $45 million
Renowned throughout the world, the Statue of Liberty does not require too much explanation. It is the symbol of freedom and democracy in the United States. It was made by the French and offered as a gift to the U.S. government to commemorate the 100th anniversary of American Independence. In fact, the Lady of Liberty holds the Declaration of Independence in her left hand, while in her right, she holds a torch symbolizing victory. Frederic Auguste Bartholdi is the sculptor behind this majestic statue, whose source of inspiration was the Colossus of Rhoses, dedicated to the God of Sun. Therefore, the Statue of Liberty has a crown with seven sun beams that correspond to the seven continents. The gigantic steel structure on which the statue was built was developed by none other than famous engineer Gustave Eiffel. At the time it was built, it cost around $250,000, money raised from the contributions of French people. The amount would be translated into $45 million nowadays. Weighing 225 tons, the Statue of Liberty was accepted by president Grover Cleveland on October, 28, 1886.
7 Tete, $52.6 million
Sculpted by Amedeo Modigliani between 1910 and 1912, Tete is the most expensive limestone statue ever sold. It was purchased on June 14, 2010 by an anonymous collector via a phone call. Literally meaning “the head,” the Tete depicts the face of a woman wearing a tribal mask, with her hair swept back. Modigliani's masterpiece is clearly inspired from African symbolism. The over 2 foot tall figure is an interesting blend of elements belonging to African culture, and the minimalist approach of Constantin Brancusi.
6 Grande tete mince, $53.3 million
The famous “thin head” by Alberto Giacometti was sculpted in 1954 and was purchased by an anonymous collector on May 4, 2010 for $53.3 million. Literally meaning “big and narrow head,” Grande tete mince is one of Alberto Giacometti's large-scale. When looked at from a certain angle, the bust seems distorted. When looked at half-face, it seems normal, but when looked at from the front, the face is abnormally narrow and elongated. Inspired by the artist's younger brother, Diego, the bronze statue is one of the most expensive in the world.
5 Spring Temple Buddha, $55 million
Currently the tallest statue in the world, the Spring Temple Buddha is not as famous as the other statues on our list, but it definitely deserves a place alongside all the other modern man-made wonders. It is 420 feet tall, but if you take the massive pedestal into account, it is actually 502 feet tall. The Spring Temple Buddha was built in response to the 2001 demolitions of the Buddhas in Bamiyan, Afghanistan by the Taliban. In fact, China still condemns the systematic demolitions and the destruction of the Buddhist heritage throughout Afghanistan. Construction was finished in 2008. The statue is twice as high as the Statue of Liberty, is made from copper, and depicts Vairocana Buddha. Located in Zhaocun township in Henan, in the very heart of China, it cost $55 million to build the Spring Temple Buddha.
4 Guennol Lioness, $57.2 million
Over 5,000 years old, Guennol Lioness is a Mesopotamian sculpture made by an unknown artist belonging to the Elam civilization. Very small, only 3.2 inches tall, it was discovered near Baghdad, Iraq. The sculpture depicts a hybrid creature, as human features are intertwined with animal ones, more precisely a lioness. Besides its value in American dollars, it is of a great historical value, too. Historians and art critics estimate that it was made around the time man invented the wheel and began constructing settlements. Plus, it symbolizes the very essence of Mesopotamian culture. The Guennol Lioness was purchased on December 5, 2007 by an anonymous collector for $57.2 million, making it the most expensive ancient statue ever.
3 For the love of God, $100 million
A strange combination of platinum, a human skull, diamonds, and human teeth, For the love of God is the newest and most modern statue on our list. The work of modern artist Damien Hirst, the statue was sculpted in 2007 and represents an Aztec inspired turquoise skull. Apparently, the 200 year old skull was the source of inspiration behind the platinum cast skull, and the teeth belong to the original skull. Covered in diamonds summing up 1,106 carats, For the love of God was sold in 2007 for $100 million It is currently the most expensive sculpture by a living artist.
2 L'Homme qui marche, worth $104.3 million
Sold at Sotheby's auction on February 3, 2010, L'Homme qui marche is the most expensive statue ever sold. Sculpted in 1961 by Alberto Giacometti, it represents a man in natural size, and is six feet tall. L'Homme qui marche literally means the man who walks. It might strike you as simple, but the bronze statue hides an interesting symbolism: human strength. A man with human feelings and both happy and sad memories who walk through life, trying to maintain a balance. Not only is it the most expensive sculpture ever sold, but Giacometti's statue is also one of the most expensive art works in history. In 2010, Lily Safra, an avid art collector, dropped a jaw-dropping $104.3 million on the L'Homme qui marche.
1 Mount Rushmore, $11 billion
One of the symbols of America's independence and freedom, Mount Rushmore is an homage to the four great presidents of the United States. Also known as the President's Mountain, Mount Rushmore in South Dakota immortalizes the faces of the four American presidents that changed the faith of the country. From left to right, these are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Work on sculpting the 60-foot tall figures began in 1927 and was finalized in 1941. At the time, the project cost nearly $1 million to complete. It was 10 times the initial estimated price. Nowadays, the sum would translate into $11 billion in present day dollars, making the statues at Mount Rushmore the most expensive in the world, reaching number one on our list.