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Who needs a model anyway? Rembrandt self-portrait sells for record $18.7 million

Updated 12:07 PM ET, Wed July 29, 2020

London (CNN) - A self-portrait by Rembrandt sold for £14.5 million ($18.7 million) at a virtual auction Tuesday -- a record price for a self-portrait by the Dutch master, according to auctioneer Sotheby's.

The artwork, a 1632 oil painting on an oak panel, featuring the young artist at a time when he had recently established himself in Amsterdam, is thought to be one of the last privately owned self-portraits.

Rembrandt was an early pioneer of the selfie -- the artist created some 80 paintings, etchings and drawings of himself, documenting his moods and appearance between the ages of 22 and 63, according to Sotheby's.

As well as creating self-portraits as character studies and exercises in portraying mood and light, Rembrandt was also producing the works, which often featured elaborate costumes, to sell to clients.

The artist probably painted his self-portraits to give prospective buyers an idea of how he would portray them if they commissioned a portrait, Sotheby's said.

The work in question, which features the artist dressed in black, with a white ruff and gold-trimmed black hat, "is one of only two in which the artist depicted himself dressed as a well-to-do young man," Sotheby's noted.

The portrait, which eclipsed the auctioneer's previous $8.9 million sale of a Rembrandt self-portrait in 2003, was one of five lots to sell for more than $10 million at the virtual evening sale, which featured works spanning some 500 years. The piece's selling price of £14.5 million included fees.

The top-selling item, Joan Miró's 1927 "Femme au chapeau rouge," fetched a whopping £22.3 million ($28.8 million) including fees, following an 11-minute bidding battle, the auction house added.


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