The Market: How to Smell a Rubens

If it takes discretion, judgment, finesse and expertise to run a first-rate art museum, it should take no less of those qualities to run a first-rate art auction house such as Christie's of London. Consider last week's strange case of the "discovered" Rubens.

The case began last spring when a frail, 82-year-old lady named Eva Savage consigned a batch of 35 presumably undistinguished paintings to Christie's to be auctioned. Her husband, who died 15 years ago, had been a picture framer whose practice was to buy old frames which he would then regild and use. Often the pictures in the...

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