The Warhol signal for the US stock market

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In the bidding wars at Sotheby’s this week — where the former couple Harry and Linda Macklowe were parting with much of their art collection after a bitter divorce — there were a few mysterious lulls.

Several of the best-known works sold for less than expected. Alberto Giacometti’s Le Nez, a bronze long-nosed figure, was hammered below its $70m to $90m estimate before an Andy Warhol silkscreen of Marilyn Monroe went for $41m, only slightly above the low end of its expected price range. It was somewhat incongruous given the enthusiasm seen minutes earlier that helped set records for artists like Jackson Pollock.

This had parallels, somewhat surprisingly, to the moves in the $54tn US stock market, where valuations on many stocks have been pumped to dizzying heights while others have hit proverbial air pockets. The valuation of electric vehicle maker Rivian, which has only recently started delivering vehicles to consumers, surged above the…

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