Rubens from Met Trustee’s Collection Expected to Fetch $20 M.

Sotheby’s will sell a painting by Peter Paul Rubens from the collection of a prominent Metropolitan Museum of Art trustee in May, where the work is expected to sell for over $20 million, the auction house announced in a press release Tuesday.

Rubens produced the work, Portrait of a Man as the God Mars, which depicts an anonymous donning armor, around 1620 while the artist was at the height of his career, Sotheby’s said. It will be offered during an evening sale of modern art scheduled to take place in May in New York. The auction house’s specialists have valued the work at an estimated $20 million to $30 million.

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The work comes from the collection of Mark Fisch, who was behind some of the Met’s largest acquisitions of European paintings for its collection. The New Jersey real estate developer is parting with his old masters collection following contentious divorce proceedings with his ex-wife, Rachel Davidson, a former judge.

In January, the house sold a group of ten works from the couple’s collection during a New York Old Masters sale, where another high-value painting by the Flemish artist titled Salome Presented with the Severed Head of Saint John the Baptist (ca. 1609) was offered. The work sold for $23.5 million ($26.9 million with fees), achieving the third-highest auction figure for a work by Rubens.

The present work set a record for Rubens when it last sold at auction at Sotheby’s New York in 2000, where it fetched $8.2 million. The work has been held in private hands since 2002, having been placed on public view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for a period of years while Fisch and Davidson owned it.

Last year, Fisch sold Rembrant’s Abraham and the Angels through Sotheby’s private sales channel at a price within its original estimate of $20 million–$30 million. Though the exact sale price was not disclosed, the deal makes it one of the highest publicly recorded prices for the 16th century Dutch artist.

The present work has been owned by high-profile figures. Before coming into the hands of its current owners, it belonged to the retail mogul and museum benefactor Samuel H. Kress and prior to that, members of the Rothschild family.

If the present work reached it’s high estimate, it could be among the most expensive Rubens painting to come to auction. Ruben’s The Massacre of the Innocents, (1609-11) achieved the artist’s record-high sum of £49.5 million, then $86 million, at Sotheby’s London in 2002.


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