By Alex Schultz
When I first learned that Saudi Arabia is purchasing the only self-portrait of Benvenuto Cellini for €107 million  I was immediately intrigued by the sum. As a financial analyst I am interested in numbers, and especially pricing, so I decided to examine all available publications in order to create a price-timeline for this portrait.
Multi-million dollar art sales are nothing new, however, readers seldom learn the story behind the price tag. Too often we are simply presented with the fact but not the data. It is my hope that readers will find my brief research into this artwork useful, and request similar analysis for other known works of art that are being sold or were sold in the past. Kindly share your wishes and requests in the comment section below.
News about the discovery of Cellini’s self-portrait first appeared in 2005 in one of the most known UK newspapers The Telegraph. A story titled ‘Antique sale painting unveiled as £60m Cellini self-portrait’ was published by Colin Randall in Paris on the 14th of September. Throughout that month the USD/GBP exchange rate fluctuated from 1.89 to 1.71 with an average rate of 1.80 dollars per 1 pound. This puts the initial insurance valuation of this self-portrait at $108 million.
Soon after, more reports about this artwork were published all over the globe. Pravda published an article titled ‘Self-portrait of Benvenuto Cellini estimated at 110 million dollars’ which is well within the margins of the initial valuation.
Lenta released a story where the value of Cellini’s portrait was 90 million euros, here’s a quote: “The owner of the self-portrait Cellini, apparently, does not intend to part with it: he has just insured an artwork for almost 90 million euros.” With the average exchange rate of 1.282 dollar per 1 euro for that period the value of this portrait grew to $115,380,000
On July 12, 2018 the latest valuation report was published in the press-release of the Tamoikin Art Fund, titled ‘Discovered Cellini’s self-portrait officially priced at €107 million’. With an average USD/EUR exchange rate of 1.167 dollars for 1 euro the current value of the Cellini’s self-portrait is culminated at $124,869,000
To summarize, from September, 2005 (when it was valued at $108 million) to July, 2018 (when it was valued at $124.9 million US) this artwork added $16.9 million to its current market value. That is $1.3 million per year. However, if we account for the inflation of the US dollar over the past 13 years (which is approximately 29%) the Tamoikin Art Fund’s 2018 valuation signifies a value decrease due to the fact that $108 million in 2005 equaled to approximately $139 million in 2018.
Does this mean that the latest valuation of 107 million euros ( $124.9 million) is a fair asking price for this self-portrait? Is it too low? Are Saudis getting a bargain? I don’t know. That is for each and every one of you to determine for yourself. I’ve provided my analysis, you have the numbers, the market will decide.
Editor’s note: The Tamoikin Art Fund denies the fact of any sale of the self-portrait of Benvenuto Cellini to Saudi Arabia but does confirm that serious interest was expressed from a representative of a wealthy Middle Eastern nation.
This article was originally published in 2018 on: fineartpress.wordpress.com/2018/12/21/price-analysis-of-cellinis-125-million-self-portrait/
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