Arts & Entertainment

Botticelli portrait expected to fetch $80 million at Sotheby’s

New York, Jan 23 (efe-epa).- Sotheby’s is preparing to sell next week a rare portrait by Italian painter Sandro Botticelli that experts value at $80 million, a record for an old master print that is in exceptional condition and is one of the only three portraits of the Renaissance artist remaining in private hands.

“In my 30 years of professional career, I have never had a Botticelli that comes close to the quality, the condition, the beauty and the importance of it,” Christopher Apostle, New York director of the Sotheby’s department of Old Masters, told EFE.

Painted some 540 years ago, Botticelli’s “Young Man Holding a Roundel” is displayed for a possible new owner in one of the elegant rooms of Sotheby’s New York headquarters.

It has been displayed for a pre-sale exhibition for any art connoisseur to see but with a prior appointment due to covid safe rules.

Apostle said Botticelli was undoubtedly the quintessential artist of the Florentine Renaissance ahead of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci.

“And of course, his famous paintings such as ‘Spring’ or ‘The Birth of Venus’ are authentic icons,” said the expert.

Apostle claimed that the portrait had been valued at around $80 million compared to other masterpieces that have hit the market.

“We are talking about these levels,” said the representative of one of the most important auction houses in the world.

He pointed out that the last time the work went on sale was almost four decades ago in 1982.

“Before that, it was in a private collection from the early 20th century, and in another from the late 18th century, we think. So you don’t see it very often,” Apostle said.

Botticelli was one of the very famous artists who painted various members of the Medici family, the great patrons of Florence’s Renaissance.

But very few of his portraits survived over time, and most of his art pieces are on display in museums.

“Young Man Holding a Roundel” will be auctioned during an online event on Thursday, Jan.28, as part of a week that Sotheby’s dedicates to the great masters of art history.

It will be joined by “Abraham and the Angels,” a rare biblical scene by Rembrandt measuring just (16X21cm) on a panel from 1646 that stands among the finest works by the artist ever to come to auction.

Last appearing at auction in London in 1848, when it sold for £64, the small-scale masterpiece is now returning to the block with an estimate of $20-30 million.

The global economic crisis triggered by the pandemic will not affect the value of the masterpieces, said the Sotheby’s expert, since the market for great works of art had continued to move at the same pace, only now virtually.

He said both paintings were so exceptional and so special that “it is an opportunity, even if we are dealing with a pandemic.”

“The reaction (of the potential buyers) has been very good,” said Apostle.

Also on sale will be “Autumn”, a 1.2-meter tall rare marble sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, he carved with his father Pietro between 1615 and 1618.

Valued between $8 million and $12 million, the piece is one of the few owned by Bernini and his father that remains in private hands. EFE-EPA

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