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William Blake
The skeleton re-animated (title-page design for The Grave)
Sotheby’s New York
May 2, 2006
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by Paul Jeromack

In a spring auction season percolating with smashingly exuberant prices, it takes a special talent to hold a sale that turns out to be a disaster. But this was achieved on May 2, 2006, at the Sotheby’s New York sale of the album of 20 watercolor drawings by William Blake titled Designs for Blair’s Grave. Of the 20 lots, eight were bought in. The combined presale high estimate was $17,481,500. The works actually sold for a total of $7,102,640. The reaction -- especially from my British colleagues at the periphery of the room -- was one of barely disguised glee. With good reason.