Role Reversal?

Lately I’ve come to think that the market and I see things differently.  For example, I would have significantly altered the estimates on the Picasso lots in the recent Sotheby’s New York Imp/Mod Evening Sale.  The giveaway of the night, and in my opinion the best Picasso oil of the season, is the above 1930 Femme.  This surrealist masterpiece was hugely underpriced and should have easily fetched three times the $8M it went for.  At least two people must have had a glimmer of its value, since it nicely exceeded its $3-5M estimate.  But, in my opinion, this painting is one of the very best of Picasso’s “meat eaters”, rivaling even the MOMA’s great La Baigneuse, which you know so well:

To what extent are the auction results are shaped by the auctioneer’s estimate and caption.  Does anyone even bother with the captions?  Well, I suppose anyone reading this blog must also pour through them.  All two of you.  One can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the auction house had flipped the estimates for this Olga-as-praying-mantis with the catalogue cover-girls, the Marie-Therese-oid dual heads (which at $21M sold well below its low estimate):