Portrait of Spanish Queen Isabel by Diego Velázquez, expected to fetch above $35 million, was pulled from auction by Sotheby’s.
The portrait of Queen Isabel de Borbon was part of the series Diego Velázquez created for the Spanish royalty, including another for her husband Philip IV. During Napolean’s invasion in 1808, it was moved from Madrid to France and then into the hands of a French nobleman in 1938. From there it moved into Henry Huth’s collection, where it stayed until its last public auction in 1950. Since 1978, it has been held by a private American family trust.
The painting was supposed to go on the auction block during Sotheby’s Old Master sale on February 1 next month. However, when the auction house released the digital catalog of works for the upcoming auctions, the Velázquez work was nowhere to be found. Upon requests for clarification, Sotheby’s only said that the sale was temporarily paused and there were ongoing discussions with the owners of the work. The auction house did not comment on the rumors that a US museum had made a private offer for the painting.
What made the auction of the Diego Velázquez painting so interesting was its guaranteed sale price of $35 million. If sold, it would have broken the existing record held by the artist by double the margin. Currently, the most expensive work sold by Velázquez stands at $16.9 million. Another cause for interest was the fact that Diego Velázquez works are mostly sold in private sales and rarely appear in public auctions.