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Botticelli portrait owned by Catalan family generates 'lot of interest'

Trinity Fine Art gallery reports plenty of interest in 15th century painting belonging to descendents of politician Francesc Cambó at London's Frieze Masters fair


07 October 2019 12:02 PM


ACN | Barcelona
While the Botticelli portrait owned by the descendents of 20th century Catalan politician, Francesc Cambó i Batlle, generated "a lot of interest" at the Frieze Masters art fair in London over the weekend, it is still up for sale, says the Trinity Fine Art gallery.

The owner of Trinity Fine Art, Carlo Orsi, told Catalan News last week that he decided to put the 15th century portrait by the Italian master on show at the fair, which normally showcases modern art, after a friend in the Guardans-Cambó family asked him to try to find a buyer.

"I know one of the owners very well, she is a friend of mine. Last year, she asked if I would like to hold the painting and try to sell it. And I said, why not? That was the start of my project for the Boticelli" Orsi told Catalan News.

The portrait of Michele Marullo (otherwise known as Michele Marullus Tarchaniota), a 15th century Greek scholar, poet and soldier, was painted by Botticelli after Marullo's widow commissioned the painting following her husband's accidental death by drowning.

"A lot of people expressed interest" in the artwork

However on Monday, sources from Trinity Fine Art told Catalan News that the gallery "did not expect to sell" the painting - which has a 30-million-euro price tag - over the weekend, although they also said that "a lot of people expressed interest" in the artwork.

As Orsi said last week: "it takes time, it's not something you can sell in a day or an hour." However, having shown off the painting at the fair, the gallery owner will now report the interest in the painting to Mrs Cambó, and "she'll decide who's made the best offer."

Even if and when a potential buyer of the artwork can be identified, discussions or negotiations can go on for months, said Trinity Fine Art, adding that selling a Renaissance masterpiece is a "complicated" business.

Asset of Cultural Interest

The Marullo portrait, which was recently on display in the Prado national gallery in Madrid, was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest by the Spanish authorities in 1988, and so can only leave the country under a temporary export licence.

Francesc Cambó, who was a keen art collector, bought the painting along with other Renaissance works, which he later bequeathed to the Prado and Catalonia's national art gallery, MNAC. However, the Marullo portrait remained in his family's hands.

For the moment that is still the case, but if a buyer can be found, the painting, which once belonged to Auguste de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg, whose father was the stepson of Napoleon, will take the next step in a long journey that began over 500 years ago.


  • A lot of interest has been expressed in Botticelli's portrait (by Mark Dalton)

  • A lot of interest has been expressed in Botticelli's portrait (by Mark Dalton)