Raphael drawing goes for $47.8 million at London auction

By Daniel S Levine,

A drawing by master Italian artist Raphael went a record £30 million at a Sotheby’s auction in London Wednesday.

According to The UK Telegraph, the drawing, titled Head of an Apostle, was part of the Duke of Devonshire's collection at the Chatsworth House estate in Derbyshire since the 1700s. The auction house estimated that it would sell between £10 million to £15 million, but ended up going for £29.7 million, or around $47.8 million.

The auction battle concluded after just 17 minutes, with four bidders vying for the piece. The winning bid came over the telephone, sparking applause from the crowd at Sotheby’s.

The Associated Press reports that the drawing was done as part of Raphael’s preparation for the painting The Transfiguration, which is now at the Vatican Museum.

“If you are lucky, at some point in your career a work like this comes along,” Gregory Rubinstein, Sotheby’s worldwide head of Old Master works, explained. “A number of the world's greatest collectors stepped up tonight in recognition of the genius of Raphael and the extraordinary beauty of this drawing with its exceptional provenance.”

He called selling the piece “one of the greatest privileges” of his career.

Rubinstein added that Raphael, who died in 1520, was a genius. The drawing sold on Wednesday is one of the most important by the master in private hands.



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