The Economist, in a review of Phillip Hook’s book about how Impressionist works came to dominate the art market, illustrates the way auction houses have marketed work in the past:
Mr Hook is especially good at describing how the post-war directors of Sotheby’s (the less stuffy of the two big auction houses) used a mix of public relations, celebrity journalism and naked opportunism to bring old collections to the market and to the attention of a whole new world of rich buyers. Ten van Goghs appeared in a 1956 biopic of the artist’s brief unhappy existence, “Lust for Life”, starring Kirk Douglas. Two years later stills from the film were so successful in publicising the sale of the pictures that even the queen herself came to view them at Sotheby’s Bond Street saleroom.
Manet, Monet, Money (Economist.com)