Art: The Solid-Gold Muse

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For days beforehand, the single sentence had been heard so often among people in the New York art world that it began to sound a bit like a secret password: "I suppose I'll be seeing you Wednesday night." On the night in question last week, the nation's biggest auction house, Parke-Bernet Galleries, sold off a group of 24 paintings that had been collected by the late advertising executive Alfred William Erickson and his wife Anna. Among the paintings was Rembrandt's Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer, which bears the unhappy nickname of...

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