An incredulous National Post

The headline Couple turn down $2.9M for painting at London auction – ‘It didn’t reach the price … they were prepared to let it go for’ in Canada’s National Post caught my eye this morning. Here’s the lead paragraph:

A Canadian couple yesterday turned down a chance to make $2.9-million at an auction in London, England, after a Victorian masterpiece they acquired by chance with the purchase of a dilapidated farmhouse failed to generate enough interest.

This article betrays a surprising degree of naivety and ignorance on the part of the newspaper, while making the Canadian couple, who acquired the painting "by chance", sound like shrewd market traders. Obviously the owners know that it makes sense to sell as high as possible, no matter what the cost. I wonder if the author and editor would find the owners’ decision so hard to believe if the painting had simply been inherited? It’s a very strange reaction for a publication that comprises Canada’s Financial Post and was formerly owned by Sotheby’s board member, Conrad Black.