Rare Botticelli portrait could sell for over $ 80m

Rare Botticelli portrait could sell for over $ 80m

A painting by Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli will go on sale in January in New York by auction house Sotheby's, which estimates its price at over $ 80 million.

The canvas represents a young man with long hair and holding a medallion. His identity is not known, but specialists believe he could be a relative of the powerful Florentine family of Medici.

The work is not dated, but it would have been made between the end of the 1470s and the beginning of the 1480s by Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), born Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi.

This was the painter's most prolific period, during which he went to Rome at the request of the Pope to decorate the Sistine Chapel, and also painted “The Birth of Venus” and “Spring”, two of his most famous works. famous.

“This image symbolizes the Renaissance in Florence,” explained Christopher Apostle, head of the Old Masters department at Sotheby's in New York. This moment “when everything fundamentally changed for Western thought, art and literature”.

The painting was estimated at more than 80 million dollars, or about 8 times the record for a painting by the Florentine master, set in 2013 by “The Madonna and Child with the Young Saint-Jean Baptiste”, sold 10.4 millions of dollars.

“This Botticelli is so much more impressive than anything we have seen happen on the market” from the painter's work, argued Christopher Apostle.

Although over 500 years old, the painting is in an exceptional state of preservation.

In the possession of a private collector, who had bought it 810,000 books in 1982 (about $ 1.3 million), it was nevertheless exhibited in many museums and for long periods.

“When you look at a canvas like this, which is so exceptional, you have to compare it to other masterpieces, paintings by Picasso, Bacon or Basquiat”, argued the Sotheby's specialist. to explain how the house arrived at this estimate.

If it exceeded $ 100 million, the painting would be the first to cross that threshold in 20 months.

“When you have a masterpiece that presents itself, people wake up, (…) whatever the period,” said Christopher Apostle about the context marked by great uncertainty on the economic plan.

He recalls that the market remained strong despite the pandemic, with in particular a triptych by Francis Bacon sold 84.6 million in June.

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