Will the Rockefeller Collection be the First Art Auction to Top $1 Billion?

A CENTURY AGO, Standard Oil baron John D. Rockefeller became one of the world’s first billionaires at a time when the U.S. government’s annual budget hovered at around $700 million. This month, the vast art collection amassed by his grandson David Rockefeller could make history of its own by selling for as much as $1 billion at Christie’s in New York. No other estate auction has ever crossed that mark.

Then again, no other Gilded Age dynasty has ever conjured a vision of wealth quite like the Rockefellers, a surname that…

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