A 16th-century painting of Christ set a record for Italian artist Girolamo Romanino at Christie's Old Masters auction late on Wednesday when it sold for $4.6 million.
"We are delighted with the world auction record of $4.6 million," said Nicholas Hall, co-chairman of Old Masters and 19th-century art at Christie's auction house. He said the masterpiece was the most important work by the artist to come to market in more than a decade.
It was the top lot of the $12.5 million sale, which also set a record for artist Philippe de Champaigne, whose painting "The Holy Family with a Sparrow" fetched more than twice its $250,000 estimate.
In February, a U.S. District Court restituted Romanino's "Christ Carrying the Cross" to the heirs of Federico Gentili di Giuseppe, a Paris-based Jewish-Italian businessman and art collector who died in 1940.
It was returned to Gentili di Giuseppe's heirs only weeks ago, capping a more than decade-long process that began with a 1999 Parisian court ruling that nullified the 1941 sale of the his estate.
Several institutions, led by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, had works in the sale.
Two works by 18th-century French landscape artist Hubert Robert, "The Ruins" and "The Old Bridge," sold as a pair, fetched $1,874,500 including commission, well above the estimate of about $1 million.
A depiction of four figures representing the four seasons and credited to a follower of Giuseppe Arcimboldo had a presale estimate of $50,000 and sold for $662,500.
A Sotheby's sale on June 6 totaled $5.2 million.
This week's Old Masters sales were smaller than this year's winter auctions, which took in a combined $120 million.
Sotheby's upcoming Old Masters sale in London will be led by "The Feilitzsch Altarpiece" by Lucas Cranach the Elder, which carries an estimate of up to six million pounds (US$9.2 million).
Similarly, Christie's Old Masters sale in London will feature John Constable's "The Lock," which has an estimate of 20 million to 25 million pounds (US$30 million to $40 million).
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