Rare Raphael Drawing Goes for $48M

New record for work on paper suggests recovering art market
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2009 6:20 AM CST
Christie's auctioneer James Bruce-Gardyne sells the Rembrandt painting 'Portrait of a Man With Arms Akimbo' during the 'Old Masters and 19th Century Art' auction in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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(Newser) – The art market is back: A rare Raphael chalk drawing went for $48 million at a Christie's auction in London yesterday—the highest price any art at auction has fetched all year, and a record for a work on paper. Christie's also sold a Rembrandt portrait for $33.2 million, showing that collectors are going after older masterpieces while the market for living artists remains shaky, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Raphael's Head of a Muse, a rare black chalk drawing of a woman's head, created around 1511 as a study for a fresco in the Vatican, is especially coveted as the only drawing from its series in private hands—the others all belong to the Louvre. The drawing, which went for double its high estimate, outshone the auction's expected star, Rembrandt's 1658 Portrait of a Man With Arms Akimbo, painted at a time when Rembrandt was out of favor with Dutch society and hard-up for money.

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