The excavation of a Buddhist monastery that sits on a wealth of copper in Afghanistan offers one of the more dramatic images of the week. Archaeologists race against time as Chinese commercial interests seek to develop the site as a mine. To the west of Afghanistan, the modern art market boomed in Turkey, and to the east, China reportedly now holds a top position in a global auction market that exceeded $11 billion in 2011. Meanwhile in the West, Gerhard Richter was assessed as the world's greatest living painter. Questions still linger whether investment interests of the wealthy or online industrialization of the art market account for recent gains. Sadly, Robert Hecht, of controversial antiquities trading, passed away. On the lighter side, the Beirut Art Fair will include an exhibit on comic sketches of political, social, and economic situations.
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