The genius of Frans Hals

Since art auctions were invented, they have served to hype artists’ prices. It can happen during an artist’s lifetime — Jeff Koons’s ‘Balloon Dog’ — or half a millennium after their death — Leonardo’s ‘Salvator Mundi’. And it can sometimes restore a lost reputation, as happened with Frans Hals. When the picture now famous as ‘The Laughing Cavalier’ came up for auction in Paris in 1865, Hals was all but forgotten. A successful portraitist in his lifetime, he never made much money — with a wife and at least ten children, he remained a renter throughout his career — and after his death his reputation, overshadowed by Rembrandt’s, was tarnished

Sale of the century: the contents of the Sitwells’ mansion are going under the hammer

In my bedroom there is a small lidded laundry basket. It was designed by Geoffrey Lusty for Lloyd Loom, a company that has, since 1917, been producing surprisingly durable furniture made from lacquered woven paper fabric for the middle classes. The basket is globular and stands on three spindly legs. It is weatherbeaten, and slightly worn, because it was produced in 1957, at the dawn of the Space Era. Indeed, it is a Sputnik wicker linen basket, designed in the style of the famous satellite. Only 100 were ever produced. Why is this double design classic not in a museum? It may be that one is. As far as this