An extremely rare portrait of famous Italian painter Sandro Botticelli could fetch $ 80 million or more if it goes on sale at Sotheby's on Thursday.
The auction marks the first major test of the art market this year, as well as the willingness of global collectors to pay eight- or nine-digit amounts for trophy work during the health crisis and market volatility. When things go well, having the most money in the art world chasing after newer, more eye-catching work by post-war and contemporary artists can help boost the reputation and prices of old master paintings.
"There is an engaged global audience and interest in this painting," said Charles Stewart, CEO of Sotheby & # 39; s.
It is believed that the Botticelli painting entitled "Young Man with a Roundel" was painted around 1480. It is one of a dozen or so portraits attributed to Botticelli, and one of only a handful that is privately owned.
The seller is said to be the estate of the late real estate billionaire Sheldon Solow, who bought the piece in 1982 for $ 1.2 million.
To market the work during the pandemic, Sotheby & # 39; s showed the painting to collectors and potential bidders around the world.
"The young man in the painting has traveled more than likely anyone else we know during Covid," Stewart said.
Botticelli is best known for "Birth of Venus", which depicts the Roman goddess emerging from a shell. The previous record for his work was the sale of "Madonna and Child with Young John the Baptist" in 2013 for $ 10.4 million.
The work will be part of Sotheby & # 39; s "Master Paintings & Sculpture" sale on Thursday.