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Record price paid for da Vinci equine masterpiece

A drawing by Leonardo da Vinci entitled “Horse and Rider” was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder at a Christie’s auction yesterday (10 July 2001). The final bid was £8,143,750. It had been expected to fetch just £3.5m.

Christie’s spokesperson Clare Roberts said: “Leonardo da Vinci drawings don’t come up for auction that often, so – when they do – it’s a real event and everyone gets very excited about it, as they did with the “Horse and Rider” piece. The bidding started off slowly and then suddenly started to pick up quickly.”

The price is a world record for the artist and equals that of Michelangelo’s “Risen Christ”, auctioned at Christie’s last year, making it one of the most valuable Old Master drawings in the world.

“Horse and Rider”, which measures 120mm by 78mm, expresses the artist’s early interest in the equine form. Noel Annesley, International Head of Old Master Drawings at Christie’s, commented: “Itis small but perfectly executed and such a lively impression of a horse and rider. This is an exceptional price for an exceptional piece.”

The silverpoint drawing was a preparatory piece for da Vinci’s unfinished panel “The Adoration of the Magi”, which is housed in the Uffizi Museum in Florence.

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