Inside Christie's

John Herbert, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (16p) ISBN 978-0-312-04609-5
As public relations director at the British auction house from 1958 to 1985, Herbert witnessed Christie's drive to catch up with rival Sotheby's, once far ahead in the race. In time, Christie's surpassed Sotheby's in the international market, as the author demonstrates with graphs appended to the text. But much more intriguing than the factual record are Herbert's exciting, often droll backstage tales of big deals: Christie's team risking death bidding for treasures in Cuba during the Bay of Pigs crisis; a millionaire's wife buying unrestrainedly while her husband is accidentally trapped in the men's room. Herbert colors his account with details of fabulous jewels and other art objects, although such riches fade beside descriptions of the world's greatest paintings. The book closes on the bedlam created by the 19-million sale of Picasso's Jeune Arlequin to Japanese bidders in London. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
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