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William Blake
Christ descending into the grave (The descent of Christ into the grave)
1806
$329,600
Sotheby’s New York
May 2, 2006
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BOMB-A-RAMA
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.

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