Monday, December 10, 2012

Raphael's drawing sold for 48 million dollars

One of Renaissance master Raphael's greatest drawings still in private hands soared to £29,721,250 ($47,869,045) on Wednesday at a Sotheby's sale in London.

Nearly doubling its low estimate of about $24 million, the drawing reached a record for a work on paper. It followed the trend of iconic examples by top-name artists bringing premium prices at auction while mid-range works have passed.

The 16th century "Head of an Apostle" is a 15-by-11 inch chalk study for the artist's last painting, "Transfiguration," in the collection of the Vatican Museum in Italy. When Raphael died in 1520, his body was laid out in state in his studio with the Transfiguration hanging at his head

Gregory Rubinstein, worldwide head of Old Master drawings at Sotheby's, said ''If you are lucky, at some point in your career a work like this comes along.

''A number of the world's greatest collectors stepped up tonight in recognition of the genius of Raphael and the extraordinary beauty of this drawing with its exceptional provenance.''

He has previously called it "one of the greatest privileges" of his career to handle the sale of "such extraordinary importance - and of such incredible power and beauty too".

Provenance was listed as Chatsworth, the ancestral home of the 12th Duke of Devonshire who is also deputy chairman of Sotheby's.

Four bidders battled for 17 minutes until it went to the phones, with a Sotheby's rep who is known to handle Russian clients winning the lot.

"The Apostle" drawing narrowly beat out the previous record price for a Raphael (given the British pound sale price). His "Head of a Muse" sold to financier Leon Black for £29,161,250 million pounds (then reportedly $47,941,095) at Christie's in London three years ago.

Ranking as the highest price paid for a lot sold at auction in Europe this year, it was also the second highest sum attained for any Old Master after Rubens.

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