A Botticelli Portrait Becomes the Second Most Expensive Old Master Painting Sold at Auction

Sandro Botticelli, “Portrait of a Young Man with a Rondell”, tempera on poplar panel, 23 x 15 ½ inches. (all pictures courtesy of Sotheby’s)

What does beauty cost? It’s roughly $ 92.2 million in fees, according to Sotheby’s. That is the price a Botticelli portrait fetched at the auction house yesterday, the most expensive work ever sold by the Florentine Renaissance artist.

“While the price paid is the second highest ever for an Old Master’s painting, this is a work that transcends time and category,” said George Wachter, Sotheby’s co-chair of Old Master Paintings Worldwide, in a press release. “Now we really know the price of beauty.”

The astonishingly illusionistic “Portrait of a Young Man with a Roundel” was $ 80 million, far beating Botticelli’s previous record of $ 10.4 million, but only flirted with the house’s “over $ 80 million” presale estimate “. The winning offer came from Lilija Sitnika, a senior customer relationship at Sotheby’s Russian Desk, who had made a phone call on behalf of the as yet unidentified buyer.

The real winner, however, might be the shipper: the founding of the recently deceased billionaire Sheldon Solow, who acquired the plant in 1982 for only $ 1.3 million. According to the New York Times, the foundation is considering using the proceeds from the sale to build a private museum in Manhattan.

The rare tempera on panel is one of three Botticelli portraits that are in private hands and are considered one of the most beautiful. Only about a dozen such works by the artist from the 15th century have survived, most of which are now in museum collections.

Let’s hope that the new owner of the work is generous with its new acquisition and lends it amply to public facilities where the 550 year old work can be seen by various viewers – and not just over the couch by some elite individuals like the Ein Botticelli is probably represented in this portrait.

Support Hyperallergic

As art communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.

Please remember to support our journalism and keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.

become a member

Comments are closed.