By EDUARDO PORTER
Art prices are setting records again. In early November "No. 6 (Yellow, White, Blue Over Yellow on Gray)" by Mark Rothko was auctioned at Sotheby's for a record $17.4 million, almost 50 percent above the top end of Sotheby's estimate. "The Ninth Hour," a room with a lifesize wax pope felled by a meteorite, by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, fetched $3 million at auction at Phillips, de Pury & Company, also exceeding its top estimate by half.
Even some of the proponents of a more analytical approach to art say it is uncertain how much these ideas will help investors beat the art market. Merely measuring the market is tough, because there are so few public transactions to base any analysis on. And many deals take place privately between dealers and collectors, so their details are frequently not known.