Sandro Botticelli, Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel, c. 1480, tempera on poplar wood

This past January, a rare portrait by the Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli sold at Sotheby’s for $92.2 million dollars. While nowhere close to the whopping $450.3 million paid for Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in 2017, this Botticelli portrait, entitled Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Roundel, is the second most expensive Old Masters work to be sold on the auction block. Additionally, the sale broke the prior record for a Botticelli work, which was $10.4 million for the so-called “Rockefeller Madonna.”

I had the opportunity to view this painting two years ago while on a brief loan to…

Last year on June 29th, Sotheby’s hosted a double feature of action: the sale of Ginny William’s esteemed collection followed immediately by the Contemporary Evening sale. These sales proved to be the litmus test that the art world needed to realize that the top players in the art world are still willing to spend the money needed in order to acquire the works. In the process of doing so, Sotheby’s has opened the virtual floodgates and expanded opportunities for art to be experienced, bought, and sold during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The success of the Sotheby’s sale was fueled by the…

Michael Coiro

art critic and musician studying at columbia

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