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The virtual world’s equivalent of an attic discovery, a jpg of this haunting and hitherto entirely unknown pen and brown ink drawing by the Mannerist master draughtsman Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, Il Parmigianino (1503-1540) had been sent to Schwed by a Philadelphia-based gentleman whose family had owned the drawing for generations before emigrating to America from Germany in the early 1900s.

Subsequent research by Schwed and Christie’s revealed that this well-preserved 61/2 by 41/4in (16 x 10.5cm) sheet dated from the last years of Parmigianino’s life and is the basis of the head of St. Stephen in an altarpiece now in Dresden.

It predictably proved to be the star lot of Christie’s (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) January 23 sale of Old Master & 19th Century Drawings in New York. Bidders soon left a modest $80,000-120,000 far behind and two Continental collectors and Jean-Luc Baroni were left to slug it out over the $600,000-mark. It was finally knocked down to Baroni for $690,000 (£500,000), doubling the existing record for a drawing by the artist.