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Rare Botticelli portrait sells for record $92.2 million at NY auction

Sotheby's said it was one of the most significant and valuable portraits of any period ever to appear at auction

By: Reuters | New York |
January 30, 2021 10:15:16 am
sotheby's, auction, rare portraitOne of the most significant, and most valuable, portraits of any period ever to appear at auction, it is a defining work of the Florentine Renaissance. (Source: Sotheby's/Instagram)

A rare Botticelli portrait sold for $92.2 million (Rs 6,722 million) at auction at Sotheby’s in New York on Thursday, a world record for any work by the Italian artist.

The Renaissance artist’s “Young Man Holding a Roundel” is one of only around a dozen of his portraits known to survive today. Sandro Botticelli’s large-scale “Birth of Venus” and “Primavera” paintings are displayed in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery.

Sotheby’s said it was one of the most significant and valuable portraits of any period ever to appear at auction.

The $92.2 million price at the auction, conducted by bidders on the phone and online, included a buyer’s premium. The identity of the buyer was not immediately known.The 15th-century work, which has also been known as “Young Man Holding a Medallion,” had carried a presale estimate of $80 million, and Sotheby’s had thought it might fetch more than $100 million.

“There are a number of artists that … are Olympian really in their genius. And Botticelli is one of those,” Christopher Apostle, director of Old Masters paintings at the auction house, said ahead of Thursday’s auction.

Sotheby’s said, “Young Man Holding a Roundel” was acquired for $1.3 million by its previous, unidentified owner at an auction in 1982 in the United Kingdom.

It shows an unknown young man, likely a member of Florence’s elite in the late 15th century, dressed in a simple tunic with a blue sky behind him and holding a roundel, or medallion.

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