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Record Auction For The Scream As Art Bubble Inflates More: Seven And A Half Things To Know

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Staff stand guard by Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' as it is hung for display at Sotheby's Auction Rooms in London, Thursday, April 12, 2012.
Staff stand guard by Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' as it is hung for display at Sotheby's Auction Rooms in London, Thursday, April 12, 2012.

The guy who invented the physics engine behind Angry Birds got only one thing, an Angry Birds sweatshirt. You get seven and a half things every day. Here they are:

Thing One: Scream If You Have Money: If you hadn't noticed the big squeaky speculative bubble in the art world before, maybe you'll notice it now.

Edvard Munch's "The Scream" sold for nearly $120 million at a Sotheby's auction last night, setting a new record for a single piece of art. That tops the previous record set by Picasso's "Nude, green leaves and bust," which sold for nearly $107 million a couple of years ago. Although it still falls far short of a sale that has only been reported, not officially recorded: Cezanne's "Card Players," which Vanity Fair's reliable sources say sold for $250 million freaking dollars to the nation of Qatar earlier this year.

We can't speak for what on earth Qatar was thinking, but what many of the recent big-art purchasers seem to have in common is an excess of cash and a desire for immediate cultural cache. So they're buying up works of art that any bucktoothed peasant who manages to stumble through the door to their palace can immediately recognize as an Important Work Of Art. Some even think they're making good investments. These people are called suckers, says Felix Salmon, who has been tirelessly tracking the art bubble for years now. "When the crash comes," he wrote earlier this year, "it’s going to be very, very painful for anybody in the art world who’s gotten used to today’s excesses."

Thing Two: Still Waitin' For Regulatin': At least the art bubble is not going to blow up the global economy any time soon. Leave that to the banks, who according to ancient legend apparently did once blow up the economy, historians think around 2008. Federal Reserve Governor Daniel Tarullo said yesterday that maybe we should regulate those banks, to maybe prevent that from happening again? He seems to remember that it's really important to do that, but everybody seems to be forgetting why, exactly. Meanwhile, the banks are so persistent in their warnings about the dangers of regulation that you almost start to think maybe we should just leave them alone to play with their financial models and their innovations. Ah, but somebody left the regulation machine running in the back room, and it turns out the hated Volcker Rule, which prohibits banks from gambling with their own (i.e. taxpayers') money, might soon come to actual fruition after all, write Ben Protess and Peter Eavis of The New York Times.

Thing Three: ECB, Easy Go: European Central Bank policy makers meet today, and not a moment too soon: The European economy is in recession, with unemployment the highest in more than a decade, the giant economy of Spain is in particular turmoil, with borrowing costs soaring. Good thing the ECB is ready to leap into action to save the day! Um, not so much, actually, writes Reuters: "The European Central Bank will resist calls to do more to fight the euro zone crisis at its meeting in Spain on Thursday."

Thing Four: Geithner Goes To China: Also today Treasury Secretary and beloved funnyman Timothy Geithner meets with Chinese officials to talk about, oh, you know, economy stuff. Good thing there hasn't been anything like an eye-poppingly bizarre situation with a Chinese dissident hanging out at the American Embassy lately. That would make things weird! One small thing that might come up, though: China has recently slowed down the pace of its currency appreciation, which makes America angry, writes Annie Lowrey of The New York Times.

Thing Five: It's A Gas: Gasoline prices may have cooled off lately, but natural-gas prices are starting to heat up again, write Carolyn Cui and Liam Pleven of the Wall Street Journal, as energy producers have slowed down drilling in response to a glut of the stuff: "The recent combination of falling supply and rising demand has sent natural-gas prices soaring. After falling to their lowest levels since September 2001 on April 19, natural-gas futures have jumped 18%, reaching $2.253 per million British thermal units on Wednesday." And it's arguably a good thing, too, as Reuters reports the World Bank is about to announce that the U.S. shale energy boom is creating a spike in waste-gas burning, helping speed up the process by which New York City will be underwater.

Thing Six: Google Back In Hot Water: When Google told European regulators that it had only accidentally scooped up all kinds of private information from citizens as part of its Street View prospecting in Europe, regulators considered the matter closed. Only now there's information that maybe it wasn't so accidental, which has said European regulators just a wee bit angry, writes The New York Times.

Thing Seven: The Beef With Beef: Between pink slime, an outbreak of Mad Cow disease and studies showing red meat turns your heart into a basketball filled with ricotta cheese (apologies SNL), beef is not having the best public-relations year, observes the Los Angeles Times. But it's fighting back, with Twitter.

Thing Seven And One Half: Head In A Glass: If you're a wealthy hedge-fund manager flying back home after a hard night at the art auction, what you probably want to see when you look into your whiskey glass is Richard Branson's ghostly head, smiling at you, telling you it's all right, you'll win that Cezanne next time. And if you fly "upper class" on Virgin Airlines, that's exactly what you're going to see, writes the Daily Mail: Richard Branson ice cubes.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

8:30 a.m. ET: Initial jobless claims for the week of 4/28

8:30 a.m. ET: Productivity for Q1

8:30 a.m. ET: Unit Labor Costs for Q1

10:00 a.m. ET: ISM Services Index for April

Corporate Earnings:

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LinkedIn

Heard On The Tweets:

@dandrezner: WAAAAH! RT @GingrichIdeas Thanks for following @GingrichIdeas everybody. But as Newt's campaign ends, so must this feed.

@ReformedBroker: Gingrich: I will still be available to debate Lincoln-Douglass style at Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs. Hit me on LinkedIn.

@BuzzFeedAndrew: Even John Glenn's 1984 drop out speech didn't mention a moon colony.

@Austan_Goolsbee: alas, citizens united is turning campaigns into sports teams--where rich guys own as vanity projects and corps own to fill tv airtime

@jfahmy: We all have many amazing things in our lives (family, health, etc.) Don't forget to focus on them & be grateful for our Blessings. RIP #Seau

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

And you can follow us on Twitter, too: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja

Around the Web

The Scream sells for record $120m at auction | Art and design ...

'Scream' fetches record $119.9M at NYC auction - Yahoo! News

TODAY Entertainment - Painting 'The Scream' sells for record $120 ...

Munch's 'Scream' beats auction record at $119.9 million | The Raw ...

'The Scream' sold at auction for record $119.9M - NY Daily News

Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' Could Set an Auction Record ...

Munch's 'Scream' beats auction record at US$116 million

'The Scream' Scoops Record $119M At N.Y. Auction : NPR