Sep 12, 2019
News

The last Botticelli painting in private hands will be up for sale at Frieze Masters.

Sandro Botticelli, Portrait of Michele Marullo, circa 1500. Courtesy Trinity Fine Art.

Sandro Botticelli, Portrait of Michele Marullo, circa 1500. Courtesy Trinity Fine Art.

A portrait believed to be the last painting by Sandro Botticelli still in private hands will be for sale next month at the Frieze Masters fair in London. The painting, a portrait of the Greek-born 15th-century poet and soldier Michele Marullo Tarcaniota, has frequently been on view at the Museo Nacional del Prado over the past decade, and will be offered at the fair in a single-work booth by Trinity Fine Art, the London gallery owned by Italian dealer Carlo Orsi. The gallery has created a dedicated website to promote the work. According to a report in The Art Newspaper, the consignor is Dona Helena Cambo de Guardans, a Spanish collector, and her family; they are hopeful the work will command a price of $30 million or more.
If the De Guardans family gets its wish, its painting will likely set a new record price for a Botticelli. The current auction record for his work was set in 2013, when the so-called “Rockefeller Madonna” (or Madonna and Child with Young Saint John the Baptist) sold for $10.4 million at Christie’s. And while the painting bound for Frieze Masters may be the last painting in private hands whose attribution to Botticelli is widely accepted, that hasn’t kept art historical sleuths from going after works they think could be by Botticelli.
In June, a painting described as being “in the style” of the Renaissance master, Portrait of a Young Man, was offered by Zurich’s Schuler auction house with a pre-sale estimate of just 5,000 to 7,000 Swiss francs (about $5,100 to $7,200). A bidding war ensued among buyers convinced it may in fact be an authentic Botticelli, driving the final price up to 6.4 million Swiss Francs ($6.5 million, or with fees 7.5 million Swiss francs or $7.6 million)—or about 914 times its high estimate.

Further Reading: Botticelli’s Gruesome Paintings Reveal a Little-Known Side to His Work

Further Reading: A Look at Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” in Pop Culture