Pinault's Big Sale

At Christie's contemporary art sale in New York last month, the top lot was a huge mural painting by Mark Rothko that the auction house hailed as a "masterwork" and "of particular importance." When the bidding was over, No. 9 (White and Black on Wine) had sold for $16.4 million — a record for a Rothko at auction, as Christie's was quick to point out.

What Christie's didn't trumpet was the identity of the seller: François Pinault, the self-made French billionaire whose holdings happen to include Christie's itself. The Rothko was in good company. Lot 39 at the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!