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Rare Botticelli portrait could reach US$100m at auction

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A rare Botticelli portrait could join the US$100 million art club when it goes up for auction in New York, Sotheby's said on Thursday.

[NEW YORK] A rare Botticelli portrait could join the US$100 million art club when it goes up for auction in New York, Sotheby's said on Thursday.

The Renaissance artist's Young Man Holding a Roundel is one of only around a dozen of his portraits known to survive today. Sandro Botticelli's large-scale Birth of Venus and Primavera paintings are displayed in Florence's Uffizi Gallery.

The 15th century work, which has also been known as Young Man Holding a Medallion, is expected to sell for more than US$80 million at Sotheby's Old Masters sale in January in New York. It has the highest estimate for an Old Master in Sotheby's history and the auction house said it could well sell for more than US$100 million.

"There are a number of artists that ... are Olympian really in their genius. And Botticelli is one of those," said Christopher Apostle, director of Old Masters paintings at the auction house.

"The estimate really reflects the quality, the condition, the enormous rarity and the huge impact that a painting like this has visually," Mr Apostle said.

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Fewer than 20 works of art have sold at auction for more than US$100 million. The last was Claude Monet's Meules, one of his celebrated Haystacks series, that went in May 2019 for US$110 million, setting a record for an Impressionist work.

The world auction record for any painting was set in 2017 with the US$450 million for Salvator Mundi, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.

Sotheby's said Young Man Holding a Roundel was acquired by its present, unidentified owner, at an auction in 1982 in the United Kingdom.

It shows an unknown young man, likely a member of Florence's elite in the late 15th century, dressed in a simple tunic with a blue sky behind him and holding a roundel, or medallion.

REUTERS

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