Botticelli sells for record £1.3 million at auction

Botticelli
The drawing was previously owned by the Polish-born wife of the heir to the Johnson & Johnson empire. Photo: Sotheby handout

A drawing by Sandro Botticelli, the Renaissance master known for iconic "Birth of Venus" painting, has sold for a record £1.3 million at auction.

The 15th century "Study for a seated St Joseph, his head resting on his right hand" fetched £1,314,500 at Sotheby's in London.

Sotheby's
The auction took place at London's Sotheby's auction house. Credit: PA

It was a new record for Botticelli - Sotheby's said it was the highest price ever paid for a work on paper by the Florentine artist.

It was also the first Botticelli drawing to be auctioned since the 19th century and the last of his drawings that remained in private hands.

The Birth Of Venus
Most of Botticelli's work hangs in public galleries. The Birth Of Venus (above) hangs in Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Credit: Reuters

The previous owner, wife of the heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, Barbara Piasecka Johnson, had the drawing among her extensive private collection of art.

St Joseph was put up for auction after she died last year - however, Mrs Johnson paid $88,000 US dollars (£52,710) at Sotheby's in New York in 1988.

The £1.3 million price tag was more than five times the figure paid in 1988.