A painting by the great Italian Renaissance Master Sandro Botticelli, whose works are rare in private collections, sold for $45.41 million at auction in New York.

After a seven-minute “duel”conducted by phone between two potential buyers at Sotheby’s auction, “The Man of Sorrows” (L’uomo dei dolori) sold to one of them for $39.3 million. With added taxes and the auction house commission, however, the final price was brought up to $45.41 million.

The price is slightly lower than Sotheby’s initial estimate (40 million excluding taxes) and twice lower than last year’record breaking sale, at $ 92.2 million, of another Botticelli painting, “Young man holding a roundel”.

“The Man of Sorrows” depicts Christ on a black background with a crown of thorns on his head and his hands tied. According to experts, it was painted in the early 1500s, towards the end of Botticelli’s life (1445-1510), whose frescoes adorn the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican. In the 19th century the painting belonged to a famous English opera singer who bequeathed  it to her heirs. It was last auctioned in 1963 with the then buyer paying just £10,000 to acquire it.

The recent auction of works exclusively by Renaissance painters, was conducted by telephone and online in the morning, New York time, so that buyers from Asia and Europe could participate.