A portrait of Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli sold for $ 92 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York on Thursday, beating the artist’s record price.
“Young Man Holding a Roundel”, believed to have been painted in the 1470s or 1480s, is considered one of Botticelli’s finest portraits and is the highlight of Sotheby’s Masters Week sale.
“This Botticelli is so much more spectacular in every way than anything we’ve seen come to market,” Christopher Apostle, Sotheby’s senior vice president, told AFP ahead of the auction.
The painting of 23 inches and 15.5 inches (58 cm x 39 centimeters) shows a man in his late teens sitting with long golden hair and holding a disc with a bearded saint.
The Roundell, depicting the saint with a high hand, is an original 14th-century work attributed to the Sienese painter Bartolommeo Bulgarini.
Art historians suspect that Botticelli portrays a nobleman who proudly displays the former work of art.
“This image symbolizes and exemplifies the Renaissance in Florence. We have not seen anything like it in my lifetime,” the apostle said, describing it as “a masterpiece.”
Sotheby’s said the final price, including fees and commissions, was $ 92.2 million after it sold under the hammer for $ 80 million.
#AuctionUpdate: Sandro Botticelli’s masterpiece Young Man Holding a Roundel, one of the most significant portraits in any period ever shown at auction, and a defining work of the Florentine Renaissance reaches $ 92.2 million – a new auction record for artist pic. twitter .com / lqsdOC1gtX
– Sotheby’s (@Sothebys) January 28, 2021
The award establishes the work as one of the most important portraits ever sold at auction.
The sale ranks alongside Gustav Klimt’s “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II”, which sold for $ 87.9 million in 2006, and Vincent Van Gogh’s “Portrait of Dr. Gachet”, which received $ 82.5 million in 1990.
The previous record for a Botticelli was set in 2013 when “Madonna and the Child with the Young Baptist John the Baptist” sold for $ 10.4 million.
“Young Man Holding a Roundel” was distributed through several generations by an aristocratic family in Wales for about 200 years.
Art researchers were not aware of the existence of the painting until it first appeared on the market in the early 20th century.
It has spent much of the last 40 years on public display since its current owner acquired it in 1982 for just £ 810,000 ($ 1.1 million at 2021 prices).
It has appeared at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery in London and elsewhere.
The auction house said that “Young Man Holding a Roundel” is as significant as Botticelli’s “Portrait of a Man with a Medal of Cosimo the Elder” and “Portrait of Giuliano de ‘Medici.”
Botticelli, who lived from 1440 to 1510, is one of the most famous painters of the early Renaissance period, but only a dozen examples of his work survive today.
His most famous works are “Birth of Venus” and “Primavera.”
“I think we underestimate how pioneering he was,” said the apostle.
Sotheby’s sale, which was virtual, was also due to sell Rembrandt’s “Abraham and the Angels” for up to $ 30 million, but it was withdrawn just before the auction.
It has been in private collections for 150 years and was last sold at auction in 1848, for only $ 64.