Anyone with a rudimentary grasp of agricultural economics would tell you that spending $7.5m (£4.8m) on a flock of sheep does not represent good business.
But then the ten mammals that fetched such an extraordinary sum at Christie’s in New York over the weekend are no farmyard-variety livestock.
French artist François -Xavier Lalanne has built up an adoring following over the past four decades for her bronze-and-wool animals, which have also included donkeys. “The supreme art is the art of living,” she once proclaimed – providing the living also shuffle around in pens and eat grass for dinner.
She and husband Claude Lalanne - who creates botanical-inspired furniture – are renowned sculptors who can command the highest prices in the art world.
Even so, as one of Lalanne’s sheep normally sells for around $90,000 (£58,000), the herd, sold by a museum in Japan which had acquired them individually, was only expected to fetch around $900,000 (£580,000), making the final figure a shock even by Christie’s standards.
And who is this shepherd with the millions to spare? Unfortunately, they remain anonymous. Though as a London and Hong Kong art dealer who regularly handles Lalanne’s work put it to the Telegraph: “The Japanese Museum should be very happy.”
Suggested For You
SUBSCRIBE AND FOLLOW
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements.Learn more