Study for a seated St Joseph, the only drawing by Sandro Botticelli in private hands, has set a new world record at Sotheby's.
The piece is now the most valuable drawing by Botticelli, whose work is incredibly sought after, with this the only work on paper to come to auction since the 19th century.
It made an impressive £1.3m ($2.2m), as part of the Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale on July 9 in London.
The study is for the figure of St Joseph in Botticelli's masterwork The Holy Family with the infant St John the Baptist, one of the best known examples of his oeuvre, housed in the Faringdon Collection at Buscot Park, UK.
Botticelli (1445-1510) is considered one of the finest artists of the early Renaissance, with works such as The Birth of Venus and the Adoration of the Magi among the most famous in the world.
The drawing came to auction as one of nine Renaissance and Baroque masterworks from the estate of connoisseur Barbara Piasecka Johnson. Heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, she died in 2013.
Piasecka Johnson paid £52,710 ($90,280) for the drawing back in 1988. The most recent price represents a 13.2% pa return on her initial investment, proving that high-end art can be a lucrative way to store and gain wealth.
George Stubbs' Tygers at Play, which sold for £7.6m ($13.1m), led the auction.
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