You are seated in an auction room at Christie’s, where all evening you have watched people in suits put prices on priceless wonders. A parade of Dutch oils and Ming vases has gone to financiers and shipping magnates and oil funds. You have made a few unsuccessful bids, but the market is obscene, and you are getting bored. You consider calling it an early night and setting down the paddle. But then an item appears that causes you to tighten your grip. Lot 475: Adult blue whale, female.