How the global art market works:

“The negotiations among Gagosian, Mugrabi, and the Sotheby’s team reflect the sort of favored-client privileges many gallerists who don’t speculate in the secondary market claim can be dangerous to collectors and artists. Mugrabi told Rotter that if Froehlich, the seller, didn’t agree to their price, he ought to take the piece off the market rather than risk a buy-in. ‘I’ll tell you what the bottom price is, and if the guy wants it, we can at least have a secure bid on it,’ he told Rotter. ‘And if he doesn’t, then maybe he withdraws it from the sale.’

“Then Mugrabi called his father. ‘Froehlich está muy stubborn,’ he complained. He proceeded to have a conversation, mostly in Spanish, about which pictures were covered (‘El Tuna, sí. El Hammer and Sickle, no. Los Zapatos tampoco…’). He took his father’s remarks as instructions to make an offer ‘por los dos.’ When Mugrabi called back to Rotter at Sotheby’s, he said, ‘What’s up, Alex? My dad said that he can pay for the two pictures—for the Hammer and Sickle and the shoes—£2 million, all-inclusive.’ Then he said, ‘Okay, cool. Okay, okay.’ They hung up.”