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  • Press release
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  • London
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  • For immediate release
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  • 8 July 2021

THE EXCEPTIONAL SALE 
LEONARDO DA VINCI
HEAD OF A BEAR

ACHIEVES A WORLD AUCTION RECORD

REALISING
£8,857,500 / US$12,196,778 / EUROS 10,327,845

Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519, Head of a Bear
Realised £8,857,500
Pre-sale estimate £8,000,000-12,000,000
©Christie’s Images 2021

LONDON – Leonardo da Vinci’s Head of a Bear, offered as the leading lot in the Exceptional Sale held this evening at Christie’s London, realised £8,857,500 against a presale estimate of £8,000,000-12,000,000.  The  result sets a new world record for a drawing by the artist. The previous record for a drawing by Leonardo da Vinci offered at auction was the Horse and Rider, also sold at Christie’s in 2001 for £8,143,750 ($11,481,865).

This penetrating study of a bear’s head, one of less than eight surviving drawings by Leonardo still in private hands outside of the British Royal Collection and the Devonshire Collections at Chatsworth, and measuring 2 ¾ x 2 ¾ inches (7 x 7 cm), is executed in silverpoint on a pale pink-beige prepared paper, a technique which Leonardo was taught by his master Andrea del Verrocchio.

Stijn Alsteens, International Head of Department, Old Master Drawings, Christie’s comments, ‘Christie’s is greatly honoured to have brought this small but magnificent Old Master Drawing to the market in the  Exceptional Sale this evening in London.  The drawing attracted attention from all around the world, and I was confident that the great quality and rarity of the work would lead to an exceptional result – the fifth highest price ever achieved for an Old Master Drawing at auction’. 

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About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a single collection sale (the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, 2018), and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019).

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

Browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at: www.christies.com or by downloading Christie’s apps. The COVID-related re-opening status of our global locations is available here.