Rare $80 Million Botticelli Painting To Smash Records At Sotheby’s Auction
A rare 15th century portrait by Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli is going up for auction and can fetch over $80 million when it goes under the hammer in January 2021 in an Old Masters evening sale at the house’s New York headquarters.
The work, titled Young Man Holding a Roundel has been billed by the auction house as one of the greatest paintings from the era still in private hands.
The piece features a bust-length portrait of a noble sitter, who is believed by scholars to be made in the image of a Medici family member, which ruled the Italian city during Botticelli's life.
This painting of florentine master Sandro Botticelli has been dated to the artist's most prolific years in the late 15th century, when Pope Sixtus IV invited him to help decorate the Sistine Chapel in Rome. During that period he produced some of his most famous works including the Birth of Venus.
As per Christopher Apostle, Head of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Department in New York, there are only 12 known portraits by Botticelli, making this one a rare work in the Renaissance artist’s oeuvre. “It’s an exceptionally rare thing within his known corpus,” Apostle said in an interview. “This is something that would have been more personal than, say, the Madonna and Child.” According to Apostle, the presentation of the roundel is intended to denote the sitter’s confirmation of his education and align him with the “ancient Roman model of civic engagement.”
The painting is poised to reach a record price for the artist. The highest price achieved for the artist at auction is $10.4 million for the sale of The Rockefeller Madonna at Christie’s in 2013. That work doubled its low pre-sale estimate of $5 million. If the portrait headed to auction in 2021 reaches its estimate of $80 million, it will be the second-highest price ever recorded for an Old Masters work at auction. It would rank next to the $450.3 million sale of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi in 2017 at Christie’s and above the $76.5 million price for Peter Paul Rubens’s Massacre of the Innocents, sold in July 2002 at Sotheby’s.
Despite its age, the painting has been kept in an immaculate state and has been exhibited in several museums.
It last changed hands in 1982, when a private collector bought it got about $1.3 million.