Art Dealer Sells Raphael for 100,000 Times the Price He Paid

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New York art dealer Ira Spanierman's Raphael painting sold last night for 18.5 million pounds ($37.3 million) with commission, more than 100,000 times the price he paid for it.

The portrait of the Florentine ruler Lorenzo de' Medici set a record for the Italian painter at the Christie's International sale in London. Spanierman bought the work for $325 at a 1968 New York auction when scholars didn't believe it was by Raphael. Dealers said he tried and failed to sell it himself before consigning it to Christie's.

A contest between two telephone bidders took the price above the presale high estimate of 15 million pounds, showing how Christie's and rival Sotheby's are winning business from galleries for top works as new millionaires pitch bids from around the world.

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