Why art's elephant bucks are behind astonishing da Vinci sale

A Christie's staff member posed with Salvator Mundi before the auction Image copyright Getty Images

The sale of Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi for $450m is an astonishing price to have realised, given both its condition and authenticity have been questioned.

It shows that ultimately art comes down to belief.

And there were plenty of bidders last night who were suitably convinced by its Leonardo da Vinci attribution to drive the price up to such stratospheric heights.

As yet, the new owner is unknown.

Speculation will be rife. Which I will contribute to, by noting the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi will have a Leonardo shaped hole in its displays when the decade-long loan deal with the French museums comes to an end.

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Kazuo Ishiguro keeps calm amid Nobel Prize frenzy

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Media captionKazuo Ishiguro talks to BBC arts editor Will Gompertz

"How should a Nobel laureate dress?" asked Kazuo Ishiguro, who, 40 minutes earlier, had found out he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

To say the news was unexpected is an understatement. He literally couldn't believe it.

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The Turner Prize 2017: Has it gone mainstream?

Lubaina Himid work Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Lubaina Himid's work looks at the representation of black culture

This year's Turner Prize is an unmitigated disaster for the headline writers of Fleet Street.

There are no enormous backsides to riff off, or unmade beds on which to pour scorn - there's no shock, or sensation, no vulgarity or profanity.

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The 'Jimi Hendrix of art'

9. Basquiat: Boom For Real Installation view Image copyright The Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat

The exhibition of more than 100 pieces of Jean-Michel Basquiat's artwork at the Barbican is going to be a hit show.

It's not faultless - the Barbican galleries are not easy spaces - but it is very good, added to which, it's jam-packed with Basquiat works that haven't been seen in the UK before.

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How Sir Peter Hall changed theatre

Sir Peter Hall and Dame Judi Dench during rehearsals for The Importance of Being Earnest (1982) Image copyright National Theatre
Image caption Sir Peter Hall directed Dame Judi Dench in The Importance of Being Earnest

Sir Peter Hall was, in many ways, the single most influential figure in British theatre in the second half of the 20th Century.

Not just because he was the man who launched Beckett in Britain, or founded the Royal Shakespeare Company, or transformed the National Theatre from a niche affair operating out of the Old Vic into a three-stage, globally respected, highly ambitious production house - all of which were great achievements.

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Martin Roth: A born frontman

Martin Roth Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Roth raised the V&A's profile both at home and abroad

I met Martin Roth shortly before he took up his post as the V&A's director. He knew I'd worked at Tate and so asked me what I thought might surprise him about running a British institution.

"Meetings," I said, and left it at that.

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Spitting image: Can drool be art?

Justine Varga and Shaune Larkin Image copyright Tweed Regional Gallery
Image caption Artist Justine Varga with judge Shaune Larkin and her winning portrait

Justine Varga's portrait of her grandmother has caused controversy after winning the Olive Cotton Award - Australia's top portrait prize worth A$20,000 (£12,000). The portrait, called Maternal Line, contains no face - and the artist used her grandmother's pen scrawls and streaks of her saliva to create the work. But is it art?

Jackson Pollock made scrawly abstract drip paintings; 70 years later Justine Varga has made a scrawly abstract dribble painting. That's progress for you.

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Dali’s last great (posthumous) artwork

Salvador Dali Image copyright LAMA/EPA

This whole Dali exhumation business is weird. It's right up there with any of his surreal artworks for its sense of the macabre and otherness. Nothing about this story is straightforward.

Let's start with where he is buried. Having died in 1989 and then been embalmed by Narcis Bardalet (who said he thought Dali would have found this whole affair hilarious), he was buried under the stage of his Theatre Museum in Figueres, north east Spain.

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Why the Tate's new boss needs to grasp the nettle

Maria Balshaw Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Maria Balshaw was named as the Tate's new director in January

Maria Balshaw wants to make the Tate "the most culturally inclusive institution in the world", which she thinks it is far from being at the moment.

"We are about a third of the way down the road," she says.

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Notes for Brooklyn Beckham (from an old man to a young man)

Brooklyn Beckham Image copyright PA

Brooklyn Beckham's first photography book, What I See, has been published to somewhat mixed reviews.

Here are a few thoughts:

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