A study of a small bear’s head by Leonardo da Vinci sold for 8.8 million pounds (about 10 million euros) at Christie’s auction in London on Thursday.
The drawing, which measures seven centimeters square, was executed circa 1480 and is one of eight known Leonardo da Vinci drawings still in the hands of private collectors, with the exception of those in the Royal British Crown and Devonshire collections at Chatsworth, in northern England.
The previous record for Leonardo’s drawing was for “Horse and Rider” (1480) (“Horse and Rider”), drawn on slightly larger paper, and sold for £8.1 million (about nine million euros), also at Christie’s auction in London in 2001 .
The work sold now belongs to American collector Thomas Kaplan, owner of the Leiden Collection, known for collecting a number of works by old Dutch masters, especially by Rembrandt.
Designed 540 years ago using a silver feather technique on pale pink paper, the bear’s head carried a higher estimate of £12 million (about €13 million).
Although Christie’s has not revealed the identity of the buyer, the bid was made on one bid by a man and woman who were present at the auction.
The drawing was previously shown in the exhibition dedicated to Leonardo da Vinci, in 2011, at the National Gallery, London, and at the Long Museum, Shanghai (2017-2018) as part of the Leiden Group’s world tour.
Previously, it was in the collections of 18th-century British painter Thomas Lawrence and antique dealer Samuel Woodburn, who sold it at Christie’s in 1860 for just £2.50 (€2.9).