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Source: Christie's and Sotheby's
Source: Christie's and Sotheby's

What Could You Buy Instead of Half a Billion Dollars’ Worth of Art?

Collectors just spent $489 million at auction on only 10 paintings. Let’s play a little game of “What If They Hadn’t?”

Pity New York’s chauffeurs, many of whom spent the last five days idling in their Mercedes S Class sedans outside Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction houses until late into the night. While they sat staring at their phones or gazing blankly into the middle distance, their employers were buying almost $2 billion worth of art. Spread it out over the week, and it would mean $277,000 was spent every minute for five days.

Those drivers could be forgiven for fantasizing about what their employers might have done instead with their money—not to mention other peoples’ time. To help them out, we’ve taken the top 10 lots of the week, which together totaled almost $489 million, and come up with a few suggestions of our own.