NEW YORK. Titian may have been the star at the Sotheby's Old Masters sale but he wasn't alone: 16 auction records were set at the sale, which "totaled $90.6 million, just shy of its $91.8 million high estimate." Three key reasons accounting for the Titian beating the previous record for the artist ($13.6m versus the new record of $16.9m) are the exceedingly few Titians remaining in private hands, the clear provenance of the painting ("A Sacra Conversazione" has only exchanged hands 6 times) and the fact that it's a "multi-figured" painting (generally, price increases with the number of figures depicted).
A Sacra Conversazione, Tiziano Vecelli (circa 1560)
Donn Zaretsky points us in the direction of a fascinating article in the FT.com about the "prolific and amazingly persistent" forger Mark Landis. Unbelievably, his motivations were not financial - Landis donated the forged works as a tribute to his parents. Equally surprising is that no criminal liability arises from his actions, however "annoying and disruptive," as no loss was suffered by any of the victims (loss is a required element under the criminal fraud statute).