Botticelli’s ‘Young Man Holding a Roundel’ sells for record $92.2 million

NEW YORK — A 15th-century painting by Sandro Botticelli sold for $92.2 million in an auction Thursday morning.

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“Young Man Holding a Roundel” was sold by Sotheby’s to a Russian-speaking collector during a live-streamed online sale, The Wall Street Journal reported. The artwork broke the record for the Italian Renaissance painter and was the highest price for an old master’s work since Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold for $450 million in 2017, The New York Times reported.

The final price included a buyer’s premium.

The auction lasted just 4 1/2 minutes and drew only two bidders, according to the Times. The winning bid was placed by Lilija Sitnika, a London-based staffer who works with Russian clients, the newspaper reported. The losing bidder was from Asia, Sotheby’s said. The auction house did not elaborate, according to the Times.

The painting dates to around 1480, the newspaper reported.

“This Botticelli is so much more spectacular in every way than anything we’ve seen coming to the market,” Sotheby’s senior vice president Christopher Apostle told the AFP news agency. “This image symbolizes and exemplifies the Renaissance in Florence. We haven’t seen anything like it in my lifetime.”

The painting was sold by the estate of billionaire Sheldon Solow, who bought it for about $1.3 million in 1982. Solow, who died last November, was a New York real estate developer who spent decades amassing a large art collection that included works by Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The final price for “Young Man Holding a Roundel” surpassed Botticello’s previous record of $10.4 million, when Christie’s sold his “Madonna and Child with Young Saint John the Baptist” in 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The painting shows a man in his late teenage years with long, golden hair sitting holding a disc -- called a roundel -- which features a bearded saint with his right hand raised, according to the BBC. While the man is not identified, he is believed to be a member of the powerful Medici family, the Times reported.

A roundel is an original 14th-century artwork attributed to Bartolommeo Bulgarini, an Italian painter from Siena, the BBC reported.

“It’s a marvelous painting,” Marc Porter, chairman of Christie’s in the Americas, told the Times this week. “It’s very attractive and seductive and undeniably rare. And the question for the market is whether this pursuit of extremely rare, appealing, commercial works of art will continue to attract a large number of bidders even in the depth of the COVID-19 emergency.”

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