You Can Now Snap Up a Michelangelo Work for Less Than $10,000

The Old Master's drawing of a marble block is heading to auction with an affordable price tag.

Michelangelo Buonarroti, Diagram of a rectangular block of marble. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd, 2024.

If you ever wanted to own a Michelangelo, now is your chance. On April 17, Christie’s is auctioning off one of the Italian master’s drawings tagged with the estimate of $6,000 to 8,000—a steal compared to the artist’s other works, which usually exchange hands for tens of millions.

You get what you pay for, however. The drawing in question isn’t exactly a masterpiece. It’s not even a sketch. It’s an ink diagram of a block of a marble, presumably made in preparation for a sculpture. Written next to the diagram is the word “simile,” which translates to “similar” in English.

The diagram’s provenance traces back to 1836, when Cosimo Buonarroti, the founder of the Casa Buonarroti museum in Florence and Michelangelo’s last male descendant, gifted it to an English tourist named John Bowring, who went on to become governor of Hong Kong.

Michelangelo’s diagram of a rectangular block of marble attached to the back of a drawing. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd, 2024.

According to a press release, the diagram ended up attached to the back of a drawing attributed to one of Michelangelo’s associates auctioned off by Christie’s in 1986. Last year, after reacquiring the diagram, the auction house determined it had been drawn by the master himself, confirming suspicions raised in the 1986 auction’s catalogue.

“This is an exciting opportunity for a wide range of collectors to possess one of the few works by Michelangelo remaining in private hands,” said Giada Damen, the head of the sale, adding that the diagram “was likely part of a communication with a quarry or shipping firm, but it is also a window into the mind of the artist, showing the interest and care Michelangelo took in selecting marble blocks.”

The last time Christie’s placed a Michelangelo drawing, one also owned by Buonarroti, under the hammer in 2008 in London, the work shot past its £10,000–£15,000 ($12,500–$18,800) estimate to make more than $90,000. It’s not unthinkable that this particular diagram—being one of the last Michelangelos in private hands—will bring in even more.

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