Skip to content

Occasional Painting – Portrait of Lorenzo de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Boy, could those Ninja Turtles sure paint good!

By Raffaello Sanzio, called Raphael (Urbino 1483-1520 Rome)
Portrait of Lorenzo de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino (1492-1519), three-quarter-length, holding a gold box
Oil on canvas, 38 x 31 in. (97 x 79 cm.)

I bring this painting to your attention not because I think it is an extraordinary work, or possesses great visual beauty, but because it is being auctioned off today, and, if the estimates are correct, should fetch up to $15 million. And all because of a name.

When this painting was last purchased in 1968, by art dealer Ira Spanierman, it sold for $325 dollars. Yes, them’s is 1968 dolluhs, but even in the 1960’s, $325 was still a dirt cheap price. The reason it was so cheap? No one knew it was a Raphael! At that time, it was just a dirty, old painting in a gaudy, 19th century frame. Spanierman, however, thought he saw, through the grime of centuries, a diamond in the rough. Three years later, he was proved correct, and the painting has quietly hung on his wall, collecting interest, ever since.

Now that it is all cleaned up, and its provenance secured, is the painting worth $15 million? It certainly shows remarkable skill and artistry, but let’s face it, if Raphael’s name wasn’t attached to it, and if Spanierman hadn’t had the eye (with a heavy dose of luck) to pick it out, this painting would still be hanging in someone’s basement, uncleaned, and unappreciated. Historically, it is far more valuable because of its subject matter, but who, among the millionaires at Christie’s tonight is going to care about that? It’s a Raphael, and Raphael’s are worth a lot of money, so therefore the painting is valuable. It is the unavoidable hierarchy of art.

Check back tomorrow to find out how much the painting sold for.tniapcco llewopemearg

3 Comments leave one →
  1. James17930 permalink
    Thursday, July 5, 2007 11:16 pm

    But I wanna know now!

  2. Friday, July 6, 2007 7:14 am

    Hold your horses! Geesh.

    According to my sources (which, coincidentally, happen to be the same sources as the BBC…), this work by good ol’ Raphael sold for $37.3 million!

    This breaks the previous record of $5.3 million for a small crayon drawing called Study for the Head and Hand of an Apostle (is there no end to this man’s creativity in choosing snappy titles??).

    So there you have it. Rich dudes buyin’ paintings. I hope they enjoy it.

  3. James17930 permalink
    Friday, July 6, 2007 9:03 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: