Paris - (Big Art): The reclusive New York trillionaire who spoofed a credulous media into buying the Lily Safra fantasy has been at it again.
Last night in Paris he snapped up Modigliani's 1912 almond-eyed limestone head sculpture for a record 43.2m euros (£35.8m), sparking frenzied media rumors about his extraordinary ID.
For years the notoriously reticent mystery mogul has run circles around self-important art experts and their gullible theory pushers about the art market's equivalent of Big Oil players.
A Bloomberg story in May this year attributing the record US$103.7 million paid for Giacometti's L'Homme qui marche I to daftass banker's widow Lily Safra was one of his finest hoaxes.
The 2004 US$104,168,000 auction purchase of Picasso's Garçon à la Pipe was also one of his most successful secret forays into Big Art.
And spoofing artworld ignoramuses like self-professed 'expert critic' Godfrey Barker about the real ownership of the 1990 $82.5m (£46m) purchase of Van Gogh's Portrait of Doctor Gachet also ranks high on the register of hoaxes.
Jackson Pollock's US$140million No. 5, 1948, Pierre- Auguste Renoir's US $78.1million Bal du moulin de la Galette, Picasso's US $106.5million Nude, Green Leaves and Bust and his US $95.2million Dora Maar au Chat are also in the reclusive trillionaire's personal collection.
A spokesperson for London auction house Sothebees (sic) said today: "WTF??"