"Shortly after 10am on an April Sunday,eager auction-goers began
bidding on more than 1100 items--paintings, furniture, decorative
pieces and vintage couture--that London-based auction house Bonhams
had put up for sale in its Los Angeles showroom. An image of a
Jules Lefranc oil painting depicting Parisian rooftops with the
dome of Sacre Coeur cathedral in the background was projected on
two Sony flat-screen TVs at the front of the room. 'Let's open the
bidding for this item at $350,' announced the auctioneer, a
rosy-cheeked woman with frosted blond hair. Immediately, a
prospective buyer discreetly raised her paddle to bid on the
painting, valued between $800 and $1200 (all dollars are US).
'Three-fifty in the back,' the auctioneer called. 'Let's go to
four.' Another bidder raised his paddle. 'Four hundred in the
centre of the room. Go $450,' the auctioneer called..."