On Thursday, Sotheby’s is displaying a painting by Sandro Botticelli, one of the most important painters of the Italian Renaissance, which has been estimated at more than $ 80 million, at a time when the art market is lacking in glamor.
Twenty months ago, no painting was sold for $ 100 million, for example, and thus the record stage for the years from 2015 to 2018 is over, and auction news no longer grabs the headlines of the media.
Will Botticelli’s painting of a handsome young man with long hair reach this symbolic threshold?
“When looking at a painting like this, which is very exceptional, it should be compared to other masterpieces, such as Picasso, Bacon, and Basquiat” that broke records in recent years, said Christopher Apostel, a chief veteran of senior painters at Sotheby’s in New York.
Of these old-timers, only Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvatore Mundi” painting was sold for 450 million dollars, more than 100 million dollars at auction.
Botticelli’s painting is still in exceptional condition, even though it is more than 500 years old. Although undated, Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), born Alessandro di Mariano Filippi, is believed to have painted it between the late 1970s and early 1980s.
This stage witnessed the most prolific production of Botticelli, during which he moved to Rome at the request of the Pope to decorate the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican metropolis. He also painted “The Birth of Venus” and “Spring”, two of his most famous works.
As for the painting presented at auction Thursday, it symbolizes “the Renaissance in Florence”, as Christopher Apostel explains, and it is the stage in which “everything changed radically in the thought, arts, and literature of the West.”
“People wake up from their slumber.”
The value of the painting was estimated at more than 80 million dollars, nearly eight times the record for Botticelli’s works achieved in 2013, “The Virgin and the Child with Saint John the Baptist,” as it sold at that time for 10.4 million dollars.
Apostel said the painting by the Florentine painter was “more beautiful than anything we saw in the market” by Botticelli.
The painting was in the possession of a collector, who bought it in 1982 for 810 thousand Italian liras (about 1.3 million dollars), but it had previously been shown in a number of museums for long periods.
If the painting sells for more than one hundred million dollars, it will be the first to reach this price since Claude Monet’s painting “The Grinder” was sold for $ 110 million in May at an auction held by “Sotheby’s” in New York.
Apostel believed that “people wake up from their slumber when a masterpiece is presented (…) regardless of the period,” even in the midst of an economically difficult stage.
He noted that the art market remained strong despite the epidemic, noting in particular the sale of a trilogy by Francis Bacon for $ 84.6 million in June.
In light of the health restrictions that prevented, in particular, New York from organizing public auctions ten months ago, the major auction houses resorted to online sales, which allowed them to maintain a large volume of activity.
Sotheby’s will open the auction at ten in the morning local time (3:00 pm GMT), instead of the opening in the evening as is customary in an auction of such importance.
This will enable European and even Asian collectors to follow the auction in a reasonable time.