Art: No Sale

The 20-by-30-ft. canvas lay unrolled like a rug on the floor. Pushing up his horn-rimmed spectacles, the auctioneer eyed Christ's Entry into Jerusalem dubiously and wondered out loud whether it would bring $100 or $10,000. "Somebody might want it for a church," he mused hopefully, "and then again a dealer might want to cut it up into handy-size art."

In a grimy Manhattan warehouse last week, the long-lost oil paintings of famed Illustrator Gustave Doré went on sale. Like the auctioneer, none of the 150 cautious dealers and enthusiastic old ladies on hand for the auction had any clear idea of what...

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