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People instinctively like record breakers: fastest man, tallest building or longest winning streak. Records provide us with a frame of reference and a benchmark by which to judge what has gone before as well as what lies ahead. Records, we are often told, are there to be broken: they can inspire greater performances and provide a target to aim for. “Les Femmes d’Alger”, sold last May at $ 179 million by Christie’s, set a new world record price for a work of art sold at auction. Prior to this sale, the previous record (after inflation) was a picture that had sold 25 years previously: Van Gogh’s “Portrait of Dr Gachet” (1890), that made $82.5 million… read more

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