Rare Botticelli portrait sells for $92m at NY auction

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 $92.18m price at the auction, conducted by bidders on the phone and online, included a buyer's premium. The identity of the buyer was not immediately known.

The 15th-century work, which has also been known as "Young Man Holding a Medallion," had been expected to sell for more than $80m. Sotheby's said it was one of the most significant portraits of any period ever to appear at auction.

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

Sotheby's said "Young Man Holding a Roundel" was acquired by its previous, 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.

The portrait was handed down through several generations of an aristocratic family in Wales for around 200 years.

Art scholars were unaware of the painting's existence until it first appeared on the market in the early 20th century.

"Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel" has spent much of the last 40 years on public display since its current owner acquired it in 1982 for just £810,000.

It has appeared at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery in London and elsewhere.

Sotheby's says a sale of over $80 million would establish the work as one of the most significant portraits to have ever sold at auction.

The previous record for a Botticelli was set in 2013 when "Madonna and Child with Young Saint John the Baptist" sold for $10.4m.

le would rank alongside Gustav Klimt's "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II," which sold for $87.9m in 2006 and Vincent Van Gogh's "Portrait of Dr Gachet," which fetched $82.5m in 1990.

Botticelli, who lived from the 1440s to 1510, is one of the most celebrated painters of the early Renaissance period, but only about a dozen examples of his work survive today.

His best-known works are "The Birth of Venus" and "Primavera".

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