Art: Lost to the Louvre

"Don't make any gestures, madame," the auctioneer cautioned sharply. "We catch them all." In Paris' jammed Galerie Charpentier last week, 1,500 people watched breathlessly as the finest collection in years went under the hammer. The merest raising of a pencil could jump the price 100,000 francs. The first painting was Fragonard's The Dreamer, in five minutes it was sold for 3,100,000 francs (about $9,000). Then, one by one, 63 paintings and drawings and six sculptures from the Cognacq collection went to new owners. The sales total three hours later: 302 million francs, more...

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