Top 7 most expensive paintings by old masters

7. Raphael, Head of a Young Apostle (c. 1519-1521)

Value: £29.7 million ($47.8 million)

Auction: Sotheby's, 2012

At a December 2012 auction at Sotheby's in London, this meticulously crafted and extremely powerful etude by a Renaissance titan sold for $47.8 million. Four bidders fought for it for a full 17 minutes, tripling the presale estimate.

It was a sketch for the last picture of the artist - the biblical scene "Transfiguration of the Lord", now stored in the Vatican Museums.

6. Raphael, Head of the Muse (c. 1510).

Value: £29.1 million ($48 million).

Auction: Christie's, 2009.

In the early 16th century, Pontiff Julius II commissioned Raphael to paint the Stanza della Señatura, the Hall of Decrees in the Papal Palace, where tribunal meetings were held and decrees were signed. "The Head of the Muses" was a preliminary sketch for one of the greatest works of the Renaissance, the Parnassus fresco.

The first documented owner of the drawing was Dutch collector Gosuinus Willenbroek in 1725. The leaf later passed to Sir Thomas Lawrence, an artist and noted collector of Old Master drawings, and then to Willem II, King of the Netherlands. The work was first offered for sale in 2009 at Christie's, where two bidders raised its price from a starting price of £16 million to £29 million.

5. Peter Paul Rubens, "Lot and His Daughters" (c. 1613-1614)

Value: £44.9 million ($58.2 million)

Auction: Christie's, 2016.

Previous owners included major Antwerp merchants, royalty and aristocrats of Europe, such as Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I and John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough.

At auction in 2016, the illustration of the biblical episode of Lot's seduction by his daughters became the most expensive Old Masters work in Christie's 250-year history. The painting was bought by a charitable foundation, which leased it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on a long-term lease.

4. Peter Paul Rubens, "The Massacre of Babes" (1611-1612).

Value: £49.5 million ($76.5 million).

Auction: Sotheby's, 2002.

This late 17th-century painting entered the collection of Liechtenstein Prince Hans-Adam I and was held by his descendants until the 19th century. Before the sale in July 2002, Sotheby's experts estimated it at 4-6 million pounds sterling, but during the auction price soared to 49.5 million. They laid out a Canadian businessman and collector Kenneth Thomson. Subsequently, he gave the canvas to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

3. Sandro Botticelli, "Portrait of a Young Man with a Medallion" (c. 1480)

Value: 92.2 million dollars.

Auction: Sotheby's, 2021.

Prior to the auction in the press murmured doubts about the fact that the painting belongs to the brush Botticelli. However, they dissipated after an unknown buyer offered a final price by phone.

"The Young Man with the Medallion" was described in the collection of the Lords of Newborough in Wales in the 1930s. Presumably, the painting was bought in the 18th century by the ancestor of the dynasty, Sir Thomas Wynne, the first baronet of Newborough, when he lived in Tuscany. The work appears to have been hung in the lobby of the mansion, and its owners had no idea how valuable it was - which explains its exceptional condition.

2. Rembrandt van Rijn, Paired Portraits of Martin Solmans and Opjen Coppit (1634)

Value: 160 million euros ($195 million)

Auction: closed deal, 2016.

Technically, these two Rembrandt masterpieces have no place on this list. All of the works listed here were sold at public auction, and the wedding portraits of the young merchant and his bride were bought in a private transaction. It was concluded by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Louvre in Paris with Baron Rothschild, whose ancestor bought the paintings in 1877. Now the two museums-owners have promised to exhibit the pair only together.

Leonardo da Vinci, "Savior of the World" (c. 1500).

Value: 450.3 million dollars

Auction: Christie's, 2016

It looks like this work will hold the lead among the most expensive works of art in history for years to come. She, in all likelihood, will become one of the most mysterious paintings in the world. In 2016, at Christie's auction in New York, it was purchased by an unknown buyer for the unimaginable price of $450 million. Later, the media confidently named the new owner Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman. However, after a sensational auction, the panel disappeared, giving rise to many rumors, speculation and fantastic theories.

The image of Christ with a translucent ball in his left hand is still fiercely disputed. It has long been thought to be a copy, and was finally attributed to the Renaissance genius only after restoration in 2006. Before being sold, the painting was exhibited at the National Gallery in London in 2011. But even after that, many art historians questioned its attribution.


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