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Michelangelo’s “national treasure” drawing has made huge sums.

Michelangelo’s ink drawing of a nude man was auctioned for over 23 million euros (roughly $24 million) in Paris.

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The drawing, believed to be one of the artist’s early works, dates back to the late 15th century. It is entitled “A nude man (after Masaccio) and two figures behind him.”

The artwork’s status as a French national treasure previously barred it from exportation from the country for 30 months. However, the government of France has since removed the designation. 

This effectively allowed Michelangelo’s drawing to be made freely available to collectors worldwide.

For much of its history, the drawing remained one of Michelangelo’s few works in private hands. 

After a 1907 purchase in Paris, the work was largely forgotten until only recently in 2019. That was when a specialist who worked for Christie’s recognized the drawing as part of Michelangelo’s portfolio.

“Michelangelo has decided to make the figure into something that corresponded more to his aesthetic by making him much more robust and monumental, while at the same time keeping the fragility of the figure, who is exposed and shivering,” Stijn Alsteens, Christie’s international head of old master drawings, described the work.

According to the art expert, the drawing holds rare insight into the development of Michelangelo’s aesthetic eye.

Christie’s said the drawing is exciting for both academics and Michelangelo fans as a major event for the art market.

“His drawings are very rare, and there are no known paintings or sculptures by him outside public collections,” Alsteens concluded.

Banner Photo via Christie’s