Michelangelo Sketch Sells for Over $200,000 at Christie's Auction

A rare Michelangelo drawing sold for a staggering $201,600 at Christie's, far exceeding its pre-sale estimate. The sketch, believed to be from the Sistine Chapel era, highlights the enduring value and rarity of the Renaissance master's artwork.

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Michelangelo Sketch Sells for Over $200,000 at Christie's Auction

Michelangelo Sketch Sells for Over $200,000 at Christie's Auction

A rare drawing by the Italian Renaissance master Michelangelo has sold for a staggering $201,600 at Christie's auction house in New York, far surpassing its pre-sale estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. The small sketch, which depicts a block of marble with the Italian word "simile" meaning "similar," is believed to have been created by Michelangelo while he was working on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the early 16th century.

The drawing was accompanied by a letter from Michelangelo's last direct descendant, Cosimo Buonarroti, who offered the piece to Sir John Bowring, a British political economist and the future governor of Hong Kong, in 1836. Although the sketch is unsigned, Christie's experts confirmed its attribution to Michelangelo through extensive research into its provenance and the accompanying letter from Buonarroti.

Why this matters: The sale highlights the enduring value and rarity of Michelangelo's artwork, with fewer than 10 of his drawings currently in private hands. The record-breaking price achieved by this small sketch demonstrates the continued fascination and reverence for the Italian master's work, even five centuries after his death.

Michelangelo's drawings are extremely rare, with only around 200 surviving sheets known to exist. The majority of these works are housed in the Casa Buonarroti museum in Florence, Italy, dedicated to preserving the artist's legacy. The sketch sold at Christie's had been affixed to the back of another drawing and was part of a private collection for decades before being identified as a work by Michelangelo.

The sale of this sketch continues the trend of Michelangelo's works fetching record-breaking prices at auction. In 2008, a diagram by the artist sold for over $90,000, and in 2022, a sketch believed to be his first-known nude sold for an astonishing $24 million.

Laetitia Masson, a specialist in old master drawings at Christie's, expressed the significance of the sale, stating, "This remarkable drawing offers us a fascinating insight into Michelangelo's working practices and the way he thought on paper." The sketch's impressive sale price underscores the enduring appeal and value of Michelangelo's artwork, cementing his status as one of the most influential and sought-after artists in history.

Key Takeaways

  • Rare Michelangelo drawing sold for $201,600, far exceeding estimate.
  • Drawing depicts a marble block with the word "simile" and linked to Sistine Chapel.
  • Fewer than 10 Michelangelo drawings are in private hands, highlighting their rarity.
  • Sale demonstrates enduring value and fascination with Michelangelo's artwork.
  • Michelangelo drawings fetch record-breaking prices, with a 2022 nude sketch selling for $24M.