UCTION! by James Brough


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The intrigue behind auctioning art masterpieces comes off splendidly here and the recent sale of Rembrandt's ""Aristotle Contemplating a Bust of Homer"" (two million, three hundred dollars) has alerted a wide American audience to the cutthroat excitement of this marketplace and the significance of a wink. Auctioneering is a arousel. Sotheby's has ticked off nine out of the ten highest prices paid in history for pictures, and now, after the loss of the Rembrandt sale, is chewing its teacups. Sales at $28,000 a minute! Here is Somerset Maugham, twitting his daughter (?-- he ays she isn't) on her royal title when she tried to get his paintings out of a recent uction there. ""I, too, have read King Lear,"" declared Maugham. The days of art sales are covered with labyrinthine thoroughness from the time they first came to public attention in the 17th century, when ""Holbeins""-- so-called-were knocked down for a efty five pounds in Pall Mall. The growth of this market of falsity into today's art market will dazzle the credulity of readers. But so go- all things bright and beautiful, ureens and sapphires, Beethoven's manuscript of The Archduke Trio and Tennessee Williams' original copy of The Glass Menagerie. Considerable curiosity and cautionary value here in a lively account of a good many well-publicized (newspaper and magazine) transactions and attractions which have caught the public interest.

Pub Date: June 10th, 1963
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill