LONDON – One of the most significant drawings by Italian master Raphael in private hands sold for $47.8 million (29.7 million pounds) in London Wednesday, smashing pre-sale estimates for the black chalk work.
"Head of an Apostle" was expected to fetch between 10 million pounds and 15 million pounds, and Sotheby's auction house said the sale set a record for any work on paper sold at auction.
Sotheby's said the winning bid was placed over the phone following an intense battle among four bidders.
"Head of an Apostle" was created in preparation for Raphael's Biblical painting "The Transfiguration," which hangs in the Vatican Museum in Rome.
"If you are lucky, at some point in your career a work like this comes along," said Gregory Rubinstein, worldwide head of Old Master drawings at Sotheby's.
He called Raphael -- who died in 1520 -- a genius.
The piece had been part of a collection at the Duke of Devonshire's Chatsworth House home in Derbyshire since the 1700s.