When the hammer came down at an evening auction during China Guardian’s spring sale in May 2011, “Eagle Standing on a Pine Tree,” a 1946 ink painting by Qi Baishi, one of China’s 20th-century masters, had drawn a startling price: $65.4 million. No Chinese painting had ever fetched so much at auction, and, by the end of the year, the sale appeared to have global implications, helping China surpass the United States as the world’s biggest art and auction market.
But two years after the auction, Qi Baishi’s masterpiece is still languishing in a warehouse in Beijing. The winning bidder has refused to pay for the piece since doubts were raised about its authenticity. Link to Multimedia Article on New York Times Magazine