It's a rare cultural institution that hasn't cut its budget. But last week's lavish, record-setting Yves St. Laurent auction in Paris is actually a good sign, not the last gasp of conspicuous consumption.
The total, you've probably read, reached $483.8 million, and one item, an Art Deco arm chair, fetched $28.3 million against an estimate of $2.6 million to $3.9 million! More important, the money spilled forth in every category of art, from Old Masters to German silver. Seventy-seven items sold for more than one million euros.
I don't think the sale augurs well for the art market, near-term; it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy high-quality objects with great provenance. But it does show that there are plenty of people with liquid assets who'll spend money for something they really want. More >