It's still possible to set a record in this art market; it just takes an amazing lot from a far-off period in time. On December 8, 2009, a drawing by Italian renaissance artist Raphael will go under the gavel. The piece is expected to pull in a world record $19.7 million. The 12-inch drawing (in black chalk) will be auctioned by Christie's at its Old Masters auction. It was a study used for a muse in Raphael's fresco of Parnassus, which is in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican. This is the highest quality piece by Raphael to come to auction since the 1980s.
Christie's is selling the Raphael drawing on behalf of an anonymous private collector, though it's been owned in the past by Sir Thomas Lawrence and King William II of Holland. It hasn't shown up at auction in more than 150 years. The history associated with this piece, as well as the piece itself, are what make it a threat to the record of 8.1 million pounds paid for the drawings "The Risen Christ" (Michelangelo) and Leonardo da Vinci's "Horse and Rider." They sold in July 2000 and July 2001, respectively.
The drawing was completed between 1508 and 1511 at the request of Pope Julius the II. The artist died in 1520 at the age of 37.
The sale will feature other major works including a masterpiece by Rembrandt, shown at right. Unseen in public for almost 40 years and offered at auction for the first time since 1930, Portrait of a man, half-length, with his arms akimbo, 1658, is offered from a distinguished private collection and is expected to bring in £18 million to £25 million. One of the most significant Old Masters to be offered in recent years. Saint John the Evangelist by Domenico Zampieri, called Il Domenichino (1581-1641), will be presented for sale for the first time in over 100 years. It is expected to sell for £7 million to £10 million.