A centuries-old drawing that was purchased for just $30 in 2017 has grown exponentially in value after being reattributed to Albrecht Dürer, according to an auction house that has plans to sell it. After a review by experts in the Old Masters field that attributed the gem to the Northern Renaissance artist, it has now been valued at $10 million.
A Massachusetts man had purchased the drawing, which depicts the Virgin and Child, at an estate sale a few years ago. It is now being promoted by London auction house Agnews Gallery, which put it on display to New York’s Colgnahi gallery.
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Specialists at Agnews Gallery made the attribution after one of its shareholders, a Boston-based collector named Clifford Schorer, brought it to their attention. He paid the Massachusetts man $100,000 in advance to sell it.
The auction house said it had brought in two Dürer experts—Christof Metzger, head curator at the Albertina museum in Vienna, and Giulia Bartrum, a former curator of German prints and drawings at the British Museum—to review the small-scale square-cut piece. Both historians believe the work to be authentic. According to Agnews, they suspect it was produced around 1503 as a study for a watercolor by Dürer, The Virgin with a Multitude of Animals (ca. 1506), which is held in Albertina’s permanent collection.
The most expensive work on paper by Dürer to come to auction was sold decades ago, in 1978. That work, a watercolor landscape of a view of Doss Trento, sold at Sotheby’s from the holdings of Swiss collector Robert von Hirsch for a hammer price of £640,000. The current auction record for a work by the artist is $1.5 million, paid for an oil painting at Sotheby’s London in 2018.