A Botticelli portrait sells for $92 million at Sotheby's auction

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Sunday, May 26, 2024

A Botticelli portrait sells for $92 million at Sotheby's auction
A preview of Sandro Botticelli's "Young Man Holding a Roundel" at Sotheby's on January 22, 2021 in New York City. Sotheby’s offered the painting as part of the annual Masters Week sales series. Cindy Ord/Getty Images/AFP.

by Katya Kazakina

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- A small painting by Sandro Botticelli fetched $92.2 million at auction at Sotheby’s on Thursday, in the art market’s first big test of the new year.

The result, an auction record for the Renaissance painter, was also the highest price paid for an old master work since Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold for $450 million in 2017. It also represented a windfall for the foundation of billionaire Sheldon Solow, who had bought it for about $1.3 million in 1982. The proceeds from the sale may be used to establish a private museum in Manhattan.

“It’s a marvelous painting,” Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s in the Americas, said this week. “It’s very attractive and seductive and undeniably rare. And the question for the market is whether this pursuit of extremely rare, appealing, commercial works of art will continue to attract a large number of bidders even in the depth of the COVID-19 emergency.”

For now, at least, the answer is affirmative. The bidding at the auction, which was livestreamed from New York, lasted just 4 1/2 minutes and drew only two competitors. The winning bid was placed by Lilija Sitnika, a London-based staffer who works with Russian clients. The underbidder was from Asia, Sotheby’s said, declining to elaborate further. The work was estimated at more than $80 million. (The final price included the hammer fees.)

Sotheby’s spent four months on its marketing campaign, putting the painting on view in Los Angeles, London and Dubai and publishing an almost 100-page catalog, with scholarly essays and technical analysis. International art buyers have taken note. Robert Simon, an old master dealer in New York, said that a wealthy Hong Kong collector contacted him shortly after the Botticelli sale was announced in September. “I never heard of him,” Simon said. “He wanted to know what I thought of the painting.”

“There are some people of tremendous wealth,” Simon added, “and they are looking at paintings in terms of diversifying their wealth or just because they think it’s a great thing to own.”

The Botticelli, “Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel,” dates to around 1480. Although the subject’s identity isn’t known, he’s believed to be a member of the powerful Medici family. His long fingers are gripping a round, gold-ground painting of a saint, attributed to the 14th-century Sienese painter Bartolomeo Bulgarini, which is inserted into the Botticelli canvas, according to Sotheby’s.

The insert and the subject’s youth are unusual for Botticelli, said Keith Christiansen, chair of the European paintings department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the work had been on loan twice, most recently from 2013 to 2020.

“There are all sorts of speculations about his identity, but there’s no way to establish who he is,” Christiansen said in an interview. “He is certainly a member of a well-to-do family because those were the only people who had their portraits painted.”

The painting spent decades in museums. Before the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it was at the National Gallery of Art in Washington for 23 years, according to Sotheby’s provenance. While it was sold anonymously, during much of this time, it was also listed among the assets of the Solow Art and Architecture Foundation in tax documents.

But over the years, scholars have questioned the work’s attribution to Botticelli. It’s still unclear when the tondo of the saint was inserted, and the issue remains “perhaps the most debated question about the painting,” according to Sotheby’s catalog. Such doubts are common with old master paintings. What makes Botticelli more complicated is that the artist was completely forgotten for centuries after his death, said Mark Evans, senior curator of painting at Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The artist was rediscovered in the 19th century by pre-Raphaelite painters and has since become one of the most recognizable names in art history.

Only three “movable” Botticelli works — two paintings and a drawing — have documentation leading directly to the artist, said Evans, a co-curator of an exhibition, “Botticelli Reimagined,” for the museum in 2016. “Almost 90% of Botticelli’s oeuvre consists of attribution. What we know for sure about 15th-century paintings is often very little. In the case of Botticelli, almost nothing was remembered about him 200 years ago.’’

But the vagaries of scholarship often don’t stand in the way of astronomical prices, as was the case with the “Salvator Mundi,” which remains the most expensive work of art ever sold.

Botticelli’s “Young Man” may have an even broader appeal, said art consultant Beverly Schreiber Jacoby, president of BSJ Fine Art in New York.

“It’s not religious,’’ she said. “It’s a handsome youth of high birth and manners. You don’t have to be a collector of old master painting to want to buy it. It appeals to the widest possible audience.”

© 2021 The New York Times Company

Today's News

January 29, 2021

A Botticelli portrait sells for $92 million at Sotheby's auction

Finally in 3D: A dinosaur's all-purpose orifice

Monolith mania comes to Chelsea

The Met receives extraordinary gift of Georg Baselitz paintings

Phillips announces private Italian collection 'Out of the Blue: Works from The Collection of Enea Righi'

Cutting-edge Carmen Herrera offered at Bonhams Prints & Multiples sale

Cowan's to present first dedicated various owner African Americana sale

Polish Jews 'outraged' over Holocaust items smuggled to Israel

Archaeologists discover spot in Alaska where Indigenous fort once stood

Amid Epstein revelations, Leon Black remains Chairman of MoMA

The empire writes back: tackling Britain's colonial past

Egypt says retrieves 5,000 artefacts from US

The gloopy glory of Frank Auerbach's portraits

Harvard University acquires portrait of Amanda Gorman for the permanent collection

National Gallery of Art announces new staff appointed to key positions across the museum

Almine Rech opens an exhibition of new works by the artist Alejandro Cardenas

Danish author Sara Omar: Breaking taboos for Muslim women

Auschwitz child victims honoured 76 years on

French roosters now crow with the law behind them

Gunnel Lindblom, familiar face in Bergman films, dies at 89

Christopher Little, who built an empire around a boy wizard, dies at 79

Cloris Leachman, Oscar winner and tv comedy star, dies at 94

Pandemic delays Cannes Film Festival until July

Aga Khan Museum launches This Being Human podcast

Master Online Betting Through 24 Sbobet

The Visible Websites Of Baccarat Gaming On The Digital Section

สล็อต ufabet (ufabet slot)

High-quality Art Book Printing Skills with Guarantee Brilliant Quality Feedback

Benefits of Online Classes During Lockdown

Tongkat Ali Powder Shown to Help You Build Muscle & Burn Fat


Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit
Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful