AUCTIONEERS' SLUGFEST

THE '80S MARKET BOOM IS HISTORY. SO CHRISTIE'S AND SOTHEBY'S NOW TRY TO OUTPROMOTE EACH OTHER

In today's art market, million-dollar prices are as common as bugs on a bayou pickup's windshield. You need eight figures to make news, and even then it may not work. The early results of the fall auction season--which began last week and will continue through this week--confirm this: one big bang, and not much else. The bang was afforded by the collection of works by Picasso (plus some by Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and other American artists) put together over 50 years, on a fairly modest budget, by Victor and Sally Ganz. It was one of the more famous American private...

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