Botticelli painting sells for $92 million at auction in NYC

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Sandro Botticelli's 15th-century painting called "Young Man Holding a Roundel" is displayed at Sotheby's on Sept. 23, 2020, in New York. The painting will go on auction next year and art watchers will be seeing if it fetches more than its eye-watering $80 million estimate, despite the pandemic. Botticellis 15th-century portrait of a nobleman in Young Man Holding a Roundel is the highlight of Sothebys Masters Week sale series in New York in January. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK – A small painting by Sandro Botticelli sold at Sotheby's in New York on Thursday for $92.2 million, an auction record for the Renaissance master.

The work, “Young Man Holding a Roundel,” from about 1475, depicts a young nobleman holding a round painting of a saint. It is one of just three portraits in private hands by the artist best known for “The Birth of Venus" and “Primavera.”

“This is not only an exceptional painting, it is also the epitome of beauty, and of a moment when so much of our Western civilization began," said Christopher Apostle, head of Sotheby’s Old Masters Painting department in New York. "Today’s result is a fitting tribute, both to the painting itself and all that it represents.”

The seller was the estate of the late real estate billionaire Sheldon Solow, who bought the work at Christie’s in 1982 for £810,000, or just over $1 million today.

Two bidders competed for the painting at Thursday's livestreamed auction. Sotheby's did not disclose the identity of the buyer.

Sotheby's exhibited “Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel” in London, Dubai, Los Angeles and New York ahead of Thursday's sale. The price, which included the auction house's fees, was the highest price paid for an old master work since Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold for $450 million in 2017.