Sculptures by the Sea 2012

Walk on the wild side … one of the exhibits. Photo: Peter Rae

SOME of the sculptures that inspired half a million visitors will soon have second lives as giant garden ornaments. And very expensive ones at that.

Up to 16 of the works featured in this year's Sculpture by the Sea exhibition at Bondi have been sold, mostly to private individuals. The most expensive was bought for more than $100,000. A further three works are under negotiation.

Some will be reassembled in private homes, farms and beach houses. Some will be shipped to buyers in Canada and New Zealand. Others will simply wash away.

Transition by Greg Taylor. Click for more photos

Sculptures by sunrise

Transition by Greg Taylor. Photo: Peter Rae

After 18 days on display, the dismantling of the sculptures starts today, with more than 100 trucks and cars and two cranes helping remove them.

One sculpture has been donated to the Royal Botanic Gardens and one has been lent to Waverley Council and will remain on the south Bondi headland until next year's show.

Sixty-five per cent of the profit goes to the artist and 35 per cent goes to the event.

Yet, despite the impressive sums, many artists struggle to cover their costs.

''You could count the artists who make a lot of money in the show on one, maximum two, hands,'' said David Handley, the event's founding director.

For most sculptors it is a six-month process. Funding covers a $2000 grant for expenses but the average sculptor spends $9000.

Sculpture by the Sea is a not-for-profit event and Mr Handley says it runs on a budget about $500,000 short of what it needs. The state government covers about 15 per cent. The rest comes from corporate sponsorship, private donations and the commission on sculpture sales.

It is not too late to acquire a sculpture to sit beside the garden gnome. Of 113 sculptures, 88 were for sale, with prices ranging from $400 to $120,000.