Sold! The Art Market: Goes Crazy

It went crazy, it stays crazy, but don't ask what the art market is doing to museums and the public

Up to last Wednesday night, Picasso's 1905 Au Lapin Agile was widely expected to become the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. It had been put on the block at Sotheby's in New York City by heiress Linda de Roulet, whose brother John Whitney Payson had sold Van Gogh's Irises for $53.9 million two years before. It was a far better picture than the Picasso self- portrait, Yo Picasso, that had made a freakish $47.85 million last May.

There are, according to Sotheby's CEO Michael Ainslie, about 500 people alive today who might fork out more than $25 million for...

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