artist who cut off his ear—it cost menan arm and a leg.” “Diary” reports thatnSylvester Stallone “has decided it’sntime he went into art . . . and evennhired a curator named Susan Guggenheim.”n”He says he doesn’t care hownmuch things cost because it’s all in angood cause—culture.”nA Cookson cartoon in The Sun. Anmiddle-class couple with the Sunflowers.nHusband, dejected: “It doesn’t gonwith the curtains!” Japanese billionairenNobutaka Shikanai is hotly tipped asnthe mystery buyer. “According to artnexperts, Van Gogh had a yen of hisnown—a yen for Japanese art!” Thisnleads to jokes. “The price wasnridiculous—you could have boughtnsome real sunflowers for that kind ofnmoney.” The Guardian obligingly calculates:n”33,000 tons of sunflowernseeds.” The Sun: “The only way to getna Van Gogh at a reasonable price thesendays is to keep your ear to the ground.”nThe Independent reports the discovery,nby a Greek peasant on the islandnof Melos, of the Venus de Milo arms.nThe arms have been transported undernescort to the Louvre where it wasnannounced that “they are a perfectnfit.” Melina Mercouri, true to form,n”may decide to exhibit the arms separatelynin a Greek museum.”nChristie’s announces pre-tax profitsnof £18.3 million for 1986, £6.1 millionnbetter than the previous year, andnits shares rise 5p in response to thennews. Sotheby’s also reports a recordnyear, with gross sales of £612.5 million.nThursday, April 2. The Times reviewsnTuesday night’s auction atnSotheby’s. Van Gogh’s Les Chardonsn—dated to August 1888, same monthnand year as the first four Sunflowersn—which the artist described as “twonthistles in a vague field, thistles whitenwith a fine dust on ^he road,” was soldnfor £260,000. The auction is describednby The Guardian as “a minor affair.”nJoke in The Dqily Telegraph: “Didnthe 25 million include the frame?”nFriday, April 3. Front page of ThenTimes: “Windsor gems fetch £20 millionnon first night.”nSaturday, April 4. As the Windsorngems fetch another £10 million, thenVan Gogh story dies. The Duchess’nplain wedding ring, inscribed “TonWallis from David,” estimated atn£600, goes for £74,073. The Duke’snt-ifei” •’•n^M-f •^’ -?n”^jPClf/i’ «^^ b> cVn^-^”^”^^^n^in’^’h’-‘^iS.’tlv.,n’••^^•im^.,n”.Tfc’tJiSVMiVi ftWn•^•jfiy»rf’« » .ir- •• -“*nTR^V !;.S”.’i. , ‘ • . » »!•••. 1n.. •-, i.-‘-« … • ;n•k .’flh. , • #n*. • • In1 – . •- ‘n,>iK,. .-•-«•’nHigh hid of £24.7S million netted Van Gogh’s Sunflowers for anmystery buyer.npipe cleaner makes £12,000. A pearlnhandle broken off the Duchess’s handbag,nsells for £18,500. A silver vestancase inscribed “To David” from hisnbrother Harry (“scrap value”: £5) sellsnfor £12,546. The Duke’s swords arenbought by Mohamed Al Fayed, ownernof Harrods, for £2,000,000: “I wantednHarrods, as a great British institution,nto have these.”nSunday, April 5. Anthony Holdennin The Sunday Times describes then”Geneva spectacle of wealthy andngreedy Americans baying in pursuit ofnthe Windsor heritage”—for the benefitnof a French medical institute. “Saltnin the wounds of Britain’s impoverishednart heritage, which had spent thenbeginning of the week watching helplesslynas foreign megabucks hijackednVan Gogh’s Sunflowers.” Highbrownnnsentiment, lowbrow syntax from herenon out.nThe Sunday Times Magazine publishesna color spread captioned “PrettynLittle Thing Seeks Ideal Home”: eightnways to frame Sunflowers, since itnappears that “there are no rights andnwrongs when it comes to hanging thenVan Gogh.” Some of the choices: ansculptured frame made from woodnlaminates” £125), “a papier-machenframe with elegant sweep” (from £65),nand “the orange-box look for the do-ityourselfnfan.”nSic transit gloria mundi.nRobin Weisman is archivist in the impressionistndepartment of Sotheby’snLondon.nJULY 1987/51n