Rare Botticelli portrait sells for $92m in New York

Young Man Holding a Roundel is one of only a few of artist’s portraits known to survive

A Sotheby’s employee poses for a photograph with the artwork Young Man Holding a Roundel by Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli. File photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

A rare Botticelli portrait sold for $92 million at auction at Sotheby’s in New York on Thursday.

The painting by the Renaissance artist, titled Young Man Holding a Roundel, is one of only about a dozen of his portraits known to survive today.

The $92.18 million (€76 million) price at the auction, which involved bidders making offers 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 $80 million. 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 Thursday's auction.

Sotheby’s said Young Man Holding a Roundel was acquired by its previous owner at an auction in 1982 in the UK.

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.

Sandro Botticelli’s large-scale Birth of Venus and Primavera paintings are displayed in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery. – Reuters