Leading article: Big Lucian

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In times of nerve-shredding economic uncertainty, there tend to be two types of investors who really splash the cash around: those who don't yet realise that the bubble has burst, and those who are confident they are buying something of lasting value.

No doubt there are a few investors of both varieties milling around the world's top auction rooms. But which one will pick up Lucian Freud's Big Sue, which goes under the hammer at Christie's in New York next month?

It is believed by Christie's that the work could fetch up to $35m (£18m), which would be the highest price ever paid at auction for the work of a living artist. Of course, such stratospheric prices reflect nothing more than what a small number of wealthy individuals are prepared to bid for a work. Yet it is difficult to see the brush-strokes of Mr Freud losing their value. Perhaps some art work ought to come with a Kitemark and the words "recession-proof".

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